Can a Legal Guardianship Expire?

By Karyn Maier

A guardianship is a legal mechanism by which one individual or entity is appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of another person. The person in need of guardianship may be a minor whose parents are unwilling or unable to provide proper care for the child, or an adult incapacitated by illness or age. Unless otherwise stipulated by the court, a legal guardianship can expire or terminate; when and how depends on the type of guardianship.

A guardianship is a legal mechanism by which one individual or entity is appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of another person. The person in need of guardianship may be a minor whose parents are unwilling or unable to provide proper care for the child, or an adult incapacitated by illness or age. Unless otherwise stipulated by the court, a legal guardianship can expire or terminate; when and how depends on the type of guardianship.

Temporary Guardianship

By definition, temporary guardianship is short-term. It is typically awarded when a minor in need of care is in the physical custody of someone other than the minor’s parents, often with the parents’ consent. At the court’s discretion, a term of temporary guardianship may or may not expire at a specific point in time. However, the court may prematurely terminate the guardianship if the guardian fails to file mandatory status reports on the child’s condition. The court may also elect to end a temporary guardianship if the natural parents raise an objection after it is in effect.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Permanent Guardianship of a Minor

As the term implies, permanent guardianship is more durable than temporary guardianship of a minor. Although it does not expire, it does end when the minor reaches legal age, or if the child dies, marries, enters the military or is adopted. Guardianship also terminates if a court declares the child emancipated. In addition, the child or the child’s parents may petition the court to terminate the guardianship, or the guardian may ask the court’s permission to resign.

Guardianship of an Adult

This type of guardianship involves making decisions relating to health care, finances and other matters on behalf of an incapacitated adult. Generally speaking, the guardianship stays in effect for as long as the person is incapacitated and the guardian remains competent. The exact terminology may vary in different states, but guardians are usually given “Letters of Guardianship” when initially appointed by the court. These letters sometimes expire on a specific date, often coinciding with the date the guardian is next due to provide the court with a status report. If the guardian neglects to file a report before the letter’s expiration date, then the guardianship is terminated.

Native American Guardianships

Guardianship works differently in Native American tribes, where termination of the rights of the natural parents is not favored. Rules pertaining to guardianship vary with each tribe, but the traditional view is to take a community approach to caring for a child in need. In effect, the entire tribe “adopts” the child by accepting responsibility for child-rearing duties with individual members serving as mentors. There is no expiration to this arrangement beyond the child reaching maturity. However, in cases where legal guardianship is established by a tribal court, then only that court has authority to address issues relating to the guardianship.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Legal Guardianship Procedures

References

Resources

Related articles

Can People With Legal Guardianship Take Children Out of State?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement established by a court in which a nonparent takes over the responsibilities of caring for a child. While a court may appoint a guardian if a child's parents are deceased, in many situations, the parents are simply unable to care for the child due to illness or substance abuse, or are unavailable for long periods of time due to military service or other work-related responsibilities. Guardianship generally terminates when the child reaches the age of 18, but may continue after that time if the child is mentally or physically disabled.

The Rights & Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian in Arkansas

A temporary guardian is a person appointed by the court to play the legal role of a child's parent, when parents are unable to do so. A court may appoint a temporary guardian when a parent is incarcerated, temporarily too ill to care for the child or after a parent dies. In Arkansas, guardians have many of the same rights and responsibilities of parents. The guardian must relinquish the child to the parent at the end of the term of guardianship if the order of guardianship orders her to do so.

Child Custody Rights for 12 Years & Older

Establishing child custody can be a highly contentious aspect of divorce. Although each parent may feel entitled to a certain amount of contact and authority over a child, custody decisions are made according to what is best for the child. In cases where the child is of sufficient age to understand the nature of the proceedings, his or her participation and preference might be considered by the court. Understanding how state law impacts the custody rights of your pre-teen or teenage child will help you better prepare for the custody process.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Legal Guardianship in Colorado

A guardian is appointed by the court to make personal decisions on behalf of another person, known as the ward, when ...

What Are the Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian?

A temporary guardian's job is to provide short-term care for an individual referred to as a ward. Wards may be minor ...

The Difference in Probate & Family Court Guardianship

Probate court handles issues relating to estate administration and the distribution of assets after death. Under ...

Difference in Guardianship and Custodian

Custody and guardianship are two types of legal arrangements under which an adult assumes legal authority over and ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED