Guardianship and conservatorship are legal concepts that have received increased attention and scrutiny in recent years. Though initially intended to allow concerned individuals to care for vulnerable people, both guardianship and conservatorship have been exploited by nefarious individuals to harm and take advantage of their wards.
A legal guardian is an individual who has control over making decisions on behalf of another person. In the majority of cases, a legal guardian is a parent, and the person that they have authority over is their child.
A legal guardian can make medical decisions, make financial choices, or take legal actions on behalf of their individual. Parental guardians can also make decisions regarding the education or religion of their child.
If you have a child or step-child with at least one parent who no longer has parental rights, you may be able to assume legal responsibility over them. In order to do so, you may need to complete the adoption process to legally assume guardianship over the child.
Unless one biological parent has surrendered their parental rights, a step-parent cannot claim legal guardianship over a non-biological child. However, if a biological parent has surrendered their parental rights, a step-parent may legally adopt the child and assume full legal guardianship.
Individuals who can claim legal responsibility over a child may become guardians. Non-biological parental figures who may assume legal guardianship of a child include the child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, step-parents, or adopted parents. Individuals seeking to become legal guardians may need to submit to background checks, safety audits, or other examinations.