Revoking a Legal Guardianship

by Sydelle John

    Revoking a legal guardianship can be a complicated endeavor. However, when done with the help of an experienced attorney, the process can be straightforward. Eliminating the issues that created the guardianship can convince the court to remove the arrangement.

    What Is a Guardianship?

    A guardianship is created when a court assigns a person to manage the affairs and welfare of another, known as a ward. The ward is typically a minor, but can be an adult who is physically or developmentally disabled. The arrangement may be temporary or permanent, with the latter requiring a hearing to determine whether the guardianship should last for a longer period of time.

    Why Is a Guardianship Necessary?

    For a minor, a guardianship may be established if either one or both birth parents cannot provide stability. To prove this, the person seeking a guardianship ruling must show that the parents lack regular jobs or live with others who endanger the child. If the potential guardian can also show that she is the child’s primary caregiver or that the parents have abandoned the child, the court may grant the request. Abandonment is commonly proven by the unexplained absence of communication and/or visits for weeks or more at a time. For a disabled adult, a guardianship is typically given to enable parents to make decisions for the individual because he is incapable of caring for himself.

    Revoking a Temporary Guardianship

    Depending on the state, a temporary guardianship can last for up to six months or as long as it takes to schedule a hearing for a permanent arrangement. During the temporary guardianship period, the parents must create a stable environment that will encourage the court to return their child to them. This can be accomplished by maintaining employment, avoiding legal problems and maintaining a safe home, among other things. For the follow-up hearing, the parents must petition the court to revoke the guardianship. The parents must provide evidence such as witnesses and sworn affidavits from people who attest to their ability to properly care for the child.

    Revoking A Permanent Guardianship

    Revoking a permanent guardianship is harder than revoking a temporary one, particularly for a minor. This is because by the time a permanent guardianship is created, the ward has lived apart from his parents for a long time. The court must consider whether revocation will create instability because the child is being removed from a familiar environment. In order to have the guardianship lifted, the parents need to prove they can provide stability and it is in the best interest of the child to live with them. If the child has siblings living with the parents, it will buttress their argument. Completion of a rehabilitation program and support from a therapist is also helpful. The guardianship of a disabled ward is lifted if he proves he has regained full capacity and is capable of caring for himself.

    About the Author

    Sydelle John is a lawyer who started writing professionally in 2007. She has written for the Guardian's Comment is Free and Pambazuka News, which focuses on pan-African issues. John has a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Vassar College.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images