Guardianship papers are used to legally designate a party to care for a minor child. In most jurisdictions, guardianship papers are not used to transfer custody between legal parents. They are, however, required when granting guardianship to an extended family member such as a grandparent, aunt or adult sibling. Since each state establishes its own requirements for guardianship papers, talk to an attorney or court clerk before preparing your own documents.
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Provide information on the child. Guardianship papers should list the child's full name, date of birth, and a description of her current custody arrangement.
List information about the person to whom you are assigning guardianship. Include the guardian's full name, date of birth, address, and relationship to the child, if she is a blood relative.
Provide your name and the name of the child's other parent. List full demographic information for the child's legal custodians, including their names, birthdates, addresses, and phone numbers.
Include a statement affirming that both parents consent to the guardianship and understand the implications of their decision. If you have sole legal and physical custody of the child, you will not need to have the other parent's consent before assigning guardianship to a third party.
State how long the guardianship is to remain in effect. If you do not wish to transfer guardianship permanently, state the dates for which you would like the guardianship to be valid, along with what rights you would like to confer on the child's guardian.
File your paperwork with the court. Although some states do not require parents to involve the court when they transfer guardianship of their child, other jurisdictions require a family court judge to review the case. If your state requires court approval prior to granting a guardianship order, you, your child, and the prospective guardian will need to attend a hearing.
Tips and warnings
- Some jurisdictions may require prospective guardians to pass a home study and background check before taking custody of the child.
- If you are unclear about the implications of setting up a guardianship arrangement or are being pressured into relinquishing custody of your child, contact a private attorney or non-profit legal aid office.
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