What Does a Guardian Do?
There are some situations where a child’s parents can no longer adequately provide shelter, food, education, and a safe living environment. In such cases, a legal guardian may be appointed by a court to fulfill guardian responsibilities under a child custody plan for that child. This is not a new adoptive parent, but a guardianship in which another responsible adult fulfills guardian rights and responsibilities for that child.
In many situations, guardian responsibilities
are quite similar to those of a parent; however, the biological parents of the child are still alive and maintain some form of relationship and/or authority. In some cases, the parents provide financial support as well, while at other times that is one of the guardian responsibilities. There are several types of guardians with different guardian responsibilities.
- Guardians of the estate are individuals tasked with managing the financial affairs of a minor child. They are especially important when a child comes into a large amount of money or property. His guardian rights include protecting the child from those who would take his money unfairly or inappropriately, or ignore the good of the child in their desire to exact financial gain from his estate. These guardian responsibilities can be assumed by a parent, a volunteer, a social worker, a lawyer, or any other qualified adult and can be organized by means of an appropriate child custody plan.
- Guardians of the person whose guardian responsibilities include meeting the physical, educational, financial, and medical needs of the child according to an appropriate child custody plan in place of the parents or until the parents can resume those responsibilities. This person has guardian rights that are the same as a parent’s and he should be consulted or notified about any situation concerning the child. He may want to formulate a child custody plan that will assure security for the child yet allow for appropriate contact with the biological parents if that is possible.
- Guardians ad litem take temporary guardian responsibilities to fulfill a child custody plan when a child’s parents are going through a divorce and in a custody battle, when there is child abuse or neglect suspected, when there is a medical need in which his parents or other responsible adults cannot agree, and more. The guardian responsibilities of this person include helping the child understand his options in determining a child custody plan, investigating conditions in the home, interviewing parents and significant adults for evidence of abuse or neglect, and helping the court reach a settlement concerning a child custody plan. He also has guardian rights to learn about the private aspects of that family.
While this type of legal representative takes on the guardian responsibilities of a parent, the parent may still have some rights, which vary by case. The child has guardian rights, which include the right to remain in some degree of contact with his parents as allowed by the court, the right to inherit his parents’ estate, the right to retain his parents’ name even if he is under permanent guardian responsibilities of someone else.
Forming a Child Custody Plan
The guardian responsibilities in forming a child custody plan during a divorce proceeding are vital. The guardian will investigate the options, the people involved, and the proposals made by each parent for a new child custody plan. He also has the guardian rights to advise the child on his rights and responsibilities in forming a child custody plan that he can live with after the divorce is final. Once the guardian has completed his investigation his guardian responsibilities require him to submit a preliminary report and child custody plan to the parents and the court. At that point, the judge will rule on a final child custody plan and dismiss representative from his guardian rights and guardian responsibilities.
Throughout that process, he has guardian rights to investigate every aspect of that family, its past relationships, and its plans for child custody. Those guardian rights also include interviewing both parents together and separately to learn their child custody plans for the divorce
. Interviewing the child in a neutral location is also one of his guardian rights and guardian responsibilities.
Fulfilling Guardian of the Person Responsibilities
While the guardian responsibilities of a guardian of the person do not necessarily include formulating a child custody plan for a divorce proceeding, they can include creating a workable child custody plan to last until the child becomes an adult or until the parents are equipped and capable of resuming their parental duties. During that time, his guardian rights are the same as the guardian rights of a parent. He has guardian rights to make legal and financial decisions for the child, guardian rights to be notified of his medical, educational, behavioral, and disciplinary needs, and guardian rights to train the child in character, religion, ethics, and morals according to his child custody plan.
If a child is living with adults other than his parents for longer than 6 months, those adults are generally required to begin guardianship proceedings. If they do not, they will not be able to fulfill their guardian responsibilities in the life of the child. Those guardian responsibilities include enrolling the child in school, authorizing medical procedures, making legal decisions concerning him, and making financial decisions for him. Neither will they have the guardian rights they must have. These guardian rights and guardian responsibilities fall under a thorough child custody plan that provides care and oversight of a minor.
Fulfilling Guardian of the Estate Responsibilities
When an adult other than a parent becomes a guardian of the person for a minor child, he agrees to the guardian responsibilities of overseeing the financial and property holdings of that minor child wisely and in his best interests. His guardian responsibilities include keeping accurate accounts of those assets and investing them according to a solid child custody plan. Another of his guardian responsibilities is to prepare regular reports to the court concerning how those assets are being protected for the child. He also has guardian rights to be notified of additional income or losses pertaining to those assets and to how he can maximize their value. There are many tragic stories about minors whose parents or guardians did not fulfill their guardian responsibilities or take advantage of his guardian rights faithfully and wasted the assets of the minor. The guardian of the estate should formulate a child custody plan that will assure that he fulfills his guardian rights and responsibilities well.