The Rights & Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian in Arkansas

By Brenna Davis

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.

Guardianship Process

To become a child's temporary guardian, you must petition the family division of the circuit court in the county in which the child resides. If the child is currently in the custody of Child Protective Services, you should consult her caseworker before filing the guardianship petition. There is a strong presumption in favor of giving guardianship to family members or to adults with whom the child already has a close relationship.

Child's Well-Being

Child custody decisions are made according to the best interests of the child. If multiple people seek guardianship, the judge will weigh the best interests of the child and make a determination about who would be better suited to care for the child on a temporary basis. Potential guardians must demonstrate that they can provide the child with a suitable environment, that they have the financial means to care for the child and that they are emotionally stable. Guardians are expected to provide love and care to the child in much the same way a parent would. A guardian who emotionally abuses a child or otherwise mistreats the child can be charged with child abuse.

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Guardians have authority to make legal, medical and educational decisions for the child in the parent's absence. They can decide where the child attends school, which doctor the child uses and how to handle any legal proceedings involving the child. However, they must make these decisions based upon the best interests of the child. A guardian who consistently makes bad decisions -- for example, denying necessary medical care -- can be charged with abuse or neglect and have her guardianship revoked.

Financial Issues

Guardians must pay for the care necessary to keep the child healthy, including medical, housing and food expenses. Occasionally, a parent will be obligated to pay child support for the child. If the child was previously in CPS custody, the guardian may request to become the child's foster parent. This removes some decision-making authority but does grant the guardian a small stipend to help pay for the child's care. If child support or a foster care stipend do not cover the full cost of a child's expenses, the guardian must pay for these items out of her own pocket.

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Do Guardianship Papers Overrule Custody?


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Does the Mother or the Father Have Legal Guardianship of an Adult Child?

When a child turns 18, she is an adult under the law and any previous guardianship or custody orders cease because adults are generally able to provide their own care. But when an adult child suffers from a mental or physical illness or handicap that prevents her from being able to care for herself, she may remain with her parents under a guardianship order. An adult child's mother or father does not receive guardianship automatically. In most cases, the individual's parents must petition the court for legal guardianship of an adult child.

When Does Legal Guardianship End?

A legal guardian is a person who is given authority over and legal responsibility for another person or her property by a court. A court may appoint a guardian for a minor or an adult who's incapacitated and can't make her own decisions or take care of herself. Reasons for a guardianship vary by situation. For example, an incompetent adult who can't manage her medical care needs a guardian for safety reasons. A legal guardian's authority ends as soon as the person for whom he's responsible, known as the ward, dies. But there are other reasons a guardianship may end, such as court-ordered termination and the guardian's own resignation.

Setting Up Guardianship in a Will

Probate courts appoint legal guardians to care for minor children if their parents die. A guardian ensures a child receives such things as housing, food, education and health care until he reaches the age of 18. Parents can nominate individuals to serve as guardians in their wills. Generally, judges follows parents' wishes by awarding guardianship to the parents' nominees. If a nominee is unable to serve, the court chooses another capable person to act. State laws regarding guardianship may vary.

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