Guardianship Of A Minor Child
Any person, under the age of 18, is considered to be incapacitated because they are not yet an adult and are in need of supervision. They are unable to make decisions on their own behalf. If a child is residing with a person other than the child’s legal parents, a guardianship action is available. If appointed guardian by the Court, the person caring for the child is able to make medical decisions and financial decisions on behalf of the child. The guardian would also be able to enroll the child in school and make other decisions necessary for the child.
When Is Adoption or Custody More Appropriate?
Guardianship in Washington state does not confer custody. If a child is residing with a non custodial parent under a guardianship, the biological parent or other parent with legal standing may demand at any time that the child be returned. If there is opposition by a parent of the child to the person seeking to be appointed guardian, it may be more prudent to petition the court for non parental custody or adoption.
How Can You Become a Guardian of a Minor Child?
A non professional guardian must take an online course prior to filing a petition for guardianship and in Spokane County must take an additional course at the Spokane County courthouse prior to being appointed guardian. There is no fee for the online course. There is a nominal fee for the Spokane County course. A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to determine whether the child needs a guardian and whether the person requesting to become a guardian is an appropriate person for that role. Upon recommendation of the guardian ad litem, the person becomes guardian.
What Is the Legal Process?
A guardianship action is initiated by the person who wishes to become guardian. A petition is filed with the Court and a guardian ad litem is appointed by the Court to investigate. The guardian ad litem makes a recommendation to the Court in a report. A guardianship hearing is held within 60 days after the petition is filed and at least 15 days after the guardian ad litem report is filed. At the hearing the Court signs an order appointing the guardian and letters of guardianship are issued granting the guardian the authority to make decisions on behalf of the minor child.
How to Obtain Life Insurance Proceeds Or A Personal Injury Settlement On Behalf of Minor Child
If a minor child receives a minor settlement in a personal injury matter or receives insurance proceeds as the beneficiary of an estate, it will be necessary for the parent to become a guardian of the estate to manage the money designated for the minor child. The insurance company or personal representative of the estate will not distribute the money directly to the parent. Once appointed guardian, the proceeds will be placed in a blocked investment account. The parent may not withdraw funds on behalf of the minor child without a court order.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are caring for a child and need to make personal, educational or financial decisions on behalf of a child please contact us.