You have probably filled out some government form before and seen a place for the “parent or legal guardian” to sign. Have you ever wondered, “what is a legal guardian?” This article will help you understand exactly what those words mean.
Being a legal guardian
Parents have important rights and legal responsibilities. In general, the law tries to establish one father and one mother that share these responsibilities. A parent has an obligation to provide for the care of their children, and also the right to make decisions about education, discipline, and the like.
The legal guardian definition is a caregiver that has legal authority and legal duties to take care of another person. This usually means a child, but a legal guardian can also be appointed to care for an elderly or disabled person.
The legal guardian for a child steps into the parental role, but not usually permanently. The parents will typically still have a place in the child’s life and make big decisions, like where the child will live and what church the child will attend.
The legal guardian will typically be making the day-to-day choices, though, like what the child will eat. The parents overall rights are usually not impacted, as the parent can usually reclaim all their rights.
Is a step parent a legal guardian?
That depends on the situation. A step parent usually does not gain legal rights or responsibilities over a child just because the step parent married the child’s parent. Some parents will agree to allow a step parent to have legal guardianship rights.
For example, if a child is spending all summer with his mom and his mom’s new husband, then the child’s father may agree to let the new husband exercise guardianship rights.
Another common scenario is where one parent dies or gives up parental rights, then the step parent adopts the child to get the same legal guardian rights as a birth parent.
Where can I find a legal guardian form?
The path to becoming a legal guardian is very straightforward if the legal parents are supporting you. Most courts or state bar associations provide detailed information packets with forms that can show you how to become a legal guardian.
The key to becoming a legal guardian the easy way is with a parent giving written permission.
The parent is simply exercising their rights by deciding to let you serve as guardian. A common example is a parent going to rehab and naming a legal guardian in the meantime.
On the other hand, becoming a legal guardian can be very difficult if a parent does not want you to be. This requires taking away some of the parent’s rights. For example, a grandmother might be worried that her daughter is doing drugs, so the grandmother wants to take over legal custody of the daughter’s children.
The law strongly protects a parent’s rights, and to limit those rights a potential guardian must usually prove that the parent cannot (or will not) take proper care of the child.