A guardianship is a legal relationship between an adult and a ward -- a child or a disabled adult -- that requires the guardian to exercise care, custody and control over the ward. Any competent adult may petition to be awarded temporary guardianship over a ward if the ward's current caretaker is or will become temporarily unable to perform his duties. Legal documentation is required to establish temporary guardianship.
Format of Petition
Your petition to request temporary guardianship must state the claims upon which you are relying to justify guardianship and the time period it is to be in effect. The petition may list specific dates or, depending on the circumstances, specific events. Your petition may request temporary guardianship, for example, until a child's parent regains mental capacity. Your petition must be signed and, in some states, notarized. Some states issue forms that you can use to draft your petition.
In every state, guardianship is awarded based on the principle of the best interests of the ward. Your petition must claim there is a temporary danger to the health or safety of the ward or, in states that allow a guardian to manage a ward's property, the proposed ward's property is in danger of being misappropriated, wasted or lost. Your petition must state specific facts that establish your claims.
Many states require you to draft a proposed court order authorizing temporary guardianship that requires only the judge's signature to go into effect. The order should name the guardian and ward and state the court orders for the establishment of a temporary guardianship over the ward. It should also cite the state statute upon which the order relies and include a signature line with the judge's name printed below. You do not have to sign the proposed order.
Different states have different requirements for supporting documentation. You may have to prepare, sign and notarize an affidavit stating facts that qualify you for guardianship, for example, that you have never been convicted of a felony. If your petition claims the ward has been abused or neglected, you may have to submit documentation supporting this claim, such as a statement signed by a physician. You must prepare a notice of the guardianship hearing and send to all interested parties, including either the proposed ward or a guardian ad litem appointed by the court to represent his interests in the proceedings. You may also have to prepare a letter of appointment to verify your authority if you are appointed guardian.
Dealing With Third Parties
A guardian must often deal with third parties on behalf of the ward. For example, he may need to register a child for school or consent to medical treatment for the ward. In these cases, he must present documentation to third parties, such as school officials or attending physicians, to establish his authority over the ward. Although each state applies its own system, you will probably have to provide either a letter of appointment or a copy of the court order that appointed you guardian.