By Chelsea Holub, Attorney
If you are caring for a child that is not yours by birth or legal adoption, you can petition to become the child’s legal guardian. This process is called Minor Guardianship. Minor guardianship allows you to make decisions about a child in your care, while potentially avoiding involvement of CPS and foster care. The minor guardianship law was overhauled in 2021, so there are some new and complex procedures that you should prepare yourself for if you are starting this process. We recommend hiring an attorney to help you navigate minor guardianship. Even judges have been confused about implementation and mechanics of the new law.
When you do hire an attorney, here are some things that we recommend you bring with you to the attorney:
Names and contact information for anyone who has cared for the child and the child’s relatives (including parents, adult siblings, and grandparents)
List of any other court cases involving the child
Reasons why you should be the child’s guardian
Names of people who would be willing to write declarations about your parenting
Ideas for a visitation schedule for the child’s parents
Patience and grace – this is a new process, and we are sometimes building the plane while we fly it!
Guardianship is not a termination of parental rights or adoption, so the child’s parents will still retain their legal standing as parents. Courts usually honor parents’ rights, so you should be prepared for the parent to still receive visitation and potentially joint decision-making even if the parent is struggling.
While minor guardianship can be a challenging and dense process, it is worth it to avoid a child that you love potentially going into foster care.
We have experience navigating these cases. Call us for a consult at 206-336-9195.