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How do you obtain guardianship of a child?

When there's a child you want to take guardianship of, it's not as easy as saying you want to do that and going to court. On top of the court paperwork, you'll need to obtain the parents' consent for you to take over guardianship. If the parents are deceased and you've been left as a guardian, that's a different situation that is addressed directly at the time of the parents' passing.

In the case that the parents are still alive but you want to take over guardianship, you need to petition the court. From there, you may need to be interviewed. The child may have to be interviewed as well, depending on his or her age. Additionally, the parents may be requested to appear in court for an interview if they're available to do so. Others who may have an interest in what happens to the children, like their aunts, uncles or cousins, may also be interviewed to determine if you're the best person for the job.

If you are determined to be the potential guardian with the best interests of the child at heart, you'll be granted legal guardianship. At that time, you'll need to sign an oath to accept guardianship of the child.

Being able to take on the parental responsibilities for a child is an honor. The courts want to make sure that anyone who takes on this important position knows what he or she is getting into and is prepared to provide for the child at all times. If the court doesn't think you're prepared, it may not grant you guardianship and may award it to another party. That's why it's a good plan to work with someone familiar with the law and what you need to put your best foot forward.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Establish Guardianship of a Child FAQs," accessed Feb. 28, 2018

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