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).
In probate court there are two types of guardianship – temporary or permanent.
Temporary 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 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.
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 decision 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.
See alternatives to guardianship of a minor for other guardianship options.