Guardianship Of A Minor in Massachusetts
Guardianship of a Minor is the legal process to appoint a caretaker for a child under the age of eighteen not under a parent’s care. In summary, Guardianship of a minor gives the guardian authority to care for and to make decisions on behalf of a child. A Guardian takes on the role of a parent, providing a stable home and making everyday decisions about a child’s health, education, and safety.
In order to obtain guardianship of a minor in Massachusetts, one must file a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor in the Family and Probate Court in the Massachusetts county in which the child resides. The person seeking guardianship must also notify all interested parties.
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court can give custody and care of a child to a Guardian if a parent gives permission or the court finds the parent is unable, unavailable, or unfit to provide the proper care themself. If the Parents are alive, there must be a finding of unfitness in order for a Guardianship Petition to be granted.
What constitutes unfit parents for Guardianship?
In Massachusetts, the courts always favor what is in the best interest of a child. The court prioritizes having both parents involved in their child’s care and upbringing. Therefore, when accusations are made that one parent is unfit to care for their child, there is a high standard that must be met before a judge will reduce or terminate parental rights.
Often during child custody or a contentious divorce one parent may accuse the other of being unfit. These claims often arise from situations involving alleged abuse, abandonment, domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse. The court will thoroughly investigate all accusations and the accused parent has the right to tell their side of the story before the judge. Diminishing or revoking parental rights is not taken lightly and unless sufficient evidence shows otherwise, a judge is likely to uphold parental rights.
Who can file for Guardianship of a minor?
Massachusetts law states that anyone of at least 18 years of age and a resident of the United States may file for guardianship of a minor. This person does not need to be directly related to the minor and more than one Guardian can be appointed to serve. A Guardian must be ruled competent by the court to care for the minor and a thorough background check will be executed.
Speak with us to obtain Guardianship of a child
If you would like to obtain guardianship of a child in Massachusetts, it is important to seek legal advice early to learn your rights and understand your options. We encourage you to call our office first. We take the time to speak with you to understand your situation and discuss how we will be able to assist you.
Understanding the guardianship process can be a daunting task. Our lawyers can help if you need assistance filing for guardianship. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options. We represent clients from Needham, Newton, Wellesley, Weston, and throughout Boston metrowest.