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Objecting to a Guardianship

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Here is what you need to know

Guardianship is an arrangement that involves two people – a guardian and ward. The guardian takes legal responsibility for the protection and care of the proposed protected person. The ward, in most cases, will be a minor, but in some cases, can be a disabled adult or elderly person.  

The term ‘objection’ in case of guardianship refers to a disagreement shown against the guardianship of a person. Any individual who differs with the guardianship agreement possesses the right to present his/her concerns in front of the court. However, they must have legitimate reasons to pursue the case.

A minor
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When to object to a guardianship?

Generally, you will be required to have valid reasons and genuine interest to challenge the guardian status of a person. You can’t file an objection just because you do not like a guardian. Instead, you will need substantial evidence against the proposed guardianship to make your case.

The following reasons can suffice to object to a guardianship. 

  • You have a closer connection to the ward. E.g., a blood relative or close friend.
  • The proposed guardian is physically, mentally, and emotionally unstable.
  • The guardian is financially unstable.
  • The guardian is involved in abuse, neglect, or has failed to provide the basic living necessities.

Paperwork required to open a guardianship case:

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Opening a guardianship case can be a long and exhausting task. The process involves a lot of forms, legal documentation, and a plethora of paperwork. While the process and requirements may differ from state to state, here is a list of essential forms that you need to fill to open a guardianship case:

  • Family court cover sheet: This form requests the basic information about the potential guardian and in some cases, a co-guardian
  • Confidential information sheet: This form asks for some sort of ID for the guardians and the ward. The information is confidential and not available to the public.
  • Petition for appointment of guardian: The person who wants to be a guardian uses this form to stake a claim as a guardian
  • Physician’s certificate: This form contains details about the medical condition of the ward
  • Citation to appear and show cause: This form is used to set a court date

You need to fill all these forms to succeed in a guardianship case. If you aren’t familiar with the documentation, you can take legal assistance from an attorney who is experienced in guardianship litigation.

A person can file a petition either before or after a judge has signed the guardianship orders. You need to know the status of guardianship because the nature of the objection and the required paperwork will be different in each case.

Here is an overview of both cases.

Objecting before the judge appoints a guardian:

The best time to object to guardianship is when a judge hasn’t yet signed the order. Once the judge approves an order, it appoints a person as the guardian to a child or an adult.

You can raise your concerns by appearing in the court or filing a written statement explaining why you are opposing a guardian before the hearing. You will be required to submit a filing fee to be able to file an objection to guardianship.

You can also file a consideration petition in the court if you want yourself to be considered as a guardian. However, you have to produce all the paperwork and explain your eligibility for the guardianship before the court of law.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Objecting after the judge has appointed a guardian:

Before deciding on the guardianship, the court sees whether the ward has signed a “Designation of Guardian” or not. This document allows the ward to tell their preference to the court who they want to be their guardian. According to The Harnett Law Firmthe designation of a guardian by the ward is not binding on the court. If the court deems the guardian unsuitable, it can even decide against them.

If the appointment of a proposed guardian produces concerns for the proposed ward or any relevant person, they may oppose the order by filing an objection. Here, the criterion of objection will be different.

Once the court appoints a guardian, it becomes very difficult to oppose that position. However, in certain circumstances, the court does offer a limited set of options for objection.

If you ever face such unpleasant situations, you can take any of the following options as your future course of action:

  • Ask the court to undo the guardianship.
  • Ask the court to replace the guardian.
  • Ask the court to terminate the guardianship.

The court will make an appropriate decision after reviewing your petition.

Final Note

Guardianship is an intricate legal issue, and it can get even more complicated if it is opposed or challenged. However, before you open a guardianship case, it is necessary to get yourself familiar with all the legal concepts and paperwork. Once you know about the challenges, your chances of success will significantly improve.