What is Guardianship?

The process to alter parental authority through the courts is known as Guardianship. A Guardian can be appointed in two ways- parental appointment by death or incapacity, or by court appointment (voluntary surrender by parent or determination of unfitness).

Our family law attorney has extensive experience helping families navigate the difficult process of appointing a guardian. If you’re in need of a compassionate partner through the legal system, contact us today at the Law Offices of Paul J. Sweeney in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

In probate court, there are two types of guardianship – temporary and permanent.

Temporary guardianship is appropriate when a delay until the return date would result in substantial harm. The guardianship may be awarded the same day of filing or with a short return date to court. The guardian is appointed for 90 days at a time. Depending on the issue at hand, temporary guardianship may or may not be appropriate. Following a temporary guardianship, or in lieu of, the guardian may seek a permanent guardianship of the minor child.

What does the court consider when appointing a guardian?

The court must look to the best interest of the child and the parent’s fitness to parent. Fitness to parent factors can include drug or alcohol abuse, as well as other factors. Once named a guardian, the guardian is able to make decisions for the child’s education, health, and religious upbringing, as well as receive child support from the parent, and allow the parent to have parenting time. The guardian must also submit a yearly report to the court on the child’s progress.

Our office has most recently handled guardianship cases where a grandparent is taking guardianship (custody) of the minor child due to the parent’s inability to parent. We handle cases where the parents assent to the guardianship and cases where the guardianship is contested and the matter must proceed to trial.


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Alternatives to Guardianship of a Minor

Parents may find it desirable to alter parental authority in keeping with the child’s best interest. There are three recognized ways to confer power to others.

If parents are seeking to temporarily provide authority to another caregiver or agent, they may wish to seek out of court measures – either a caregiver authorization or Temporary Agent. Both of these options are out-of-court options and are temporary in nature.

A caregiver authorization, as outlined in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 201F, may authorize a designated caregiver to exercise certain parental rights and responsibilities of a minor, such as decisions regarding the minor’s education or health care. The caregiver authorization affidavit may be valid for up to two years and may be reauthorized.

Another option is the Temporary Agent, as outlined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 190B section 5-103. In this case, the parent delegates some or all power to an authorized agent, but only for up to 60 days.

Speak to Our Attorney in Jamaica Plain

If you are ready to discuss guardianship, adoption, or other modifications to parental authority in Massachusetts, schedule a consultation with our attorney at the Law Offices of Paul J. Sweeney today. We are proud to serve the needs of families in Boston, Brookline, Canton, and Lexington from our location in Jamaica Plain.


If you’re considering appointing a guardian or adopting in the state of Massachusetts, put our skilled attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Paul J. Sweeney, we serve the needs of families in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Brookline, Canton, and Lexington. Reach out today to schedule a consultation and start moving forward.