Fundamentally, guardianship of a child essentially means shifting the parental authority of a child from the natural parents to someone else. Many times, but not always, it involves another relative.
However, guardianship can involve a non-biological adult, even a court-appointed one, if determined in the child’s best interests. The “best interest” element is crucial; the court will weigh heavily on the course that provides the best overall environment to raise the child, even if that means a non-relative will have guardianship.
And that environment is a combination of health, care, protection, education, house, and social rearing, as well as the financial capability to provide that care.
Types of Guardianship and How to Get it
Guardianship in Utah can be in different authorized forms, which include the following:
- Standard guardianship essentially takes the place of a regular parent’s role in every aspect legally.
- School-based guardianship appoints a school official to be a minor’s guardian. The school official would be in the same school district where the minor lives and the local school board does the appointing.
- Adoption provides a permanent and final form of guardianship, defining the adoptive parents as the legal parents of a minor in the full title. According to the court order, the authority goes well beyond traditional guardianship.
- Testamentary appointments can designate a guardian in the last wills or similar documents of parents who are now deceased. The guardian-to-be provides the documentation to the probate court and required notice to all impacted parties, and then the court confirms the testamentary document’s intent.
- Traditional guardianship. The interested adult files a court petition directly with the help of Heber lawyers to the county district court where the minor lives. The petitioner can seek guardianship personally or for someone else.
In either case, the decision will base on the petition’s court hearing, and the best interest criteria are in that review. Doing so, the guardian then becomes personally responsible to the court for the minor’s wellbeing, including all identification and contact information, and reporting to the court for accountability if an issue arises.
Evaluation of the Child
In addition to the petition, the petitioner will also have to obtain a physician’s review or a psychologist’s evaluation of the minor. The report covers the mental and physical assessment of the child.
It may include a review of any identified or known impairments of the child affecting care and any medications already prescribed. Further, there will be an evaluation of any needs for the care of the minor and other related information to determine the best interest direction for the child.
A Waiver of Notice
As Heber family law attorneys will advise, noticing is a procedural but essential part of a guardianship petition. This includes a notice to the minor, if age fourteen or older, whoever has primary care of the minor 60 days before the petition filing. Whoever has primary care could be any known parent of the child, any other existing guardian already authorized by a testamentary appointment, and the school district where the child lives.
The goal of all the noticing is to make sure any of the above-interested parties have a chance to weigh in on the petition if desired. The court sends these actual notices, but the petitioner must provide all the contact information. Where a party’s address is not known, an alternative service motion can offer the ability to move forward.
The Gordon Law Group Can Help You
The Gordon Law Group can help with guardianship Utah petitions. As a qualified and experienced attorney for guardianship cases, our team has regularly represented families and guardians seeking to provide care for minors whose natural parents are no longer able to.
This approach is critical to do correctly. Otherwise, the Utah district court can reject the petition outright, forcing parties to start all over again with a new petition.
Instead, utilizing Heber family lawyers who confirm things go correctly from the start helps families and minors obtain guardianship the right way. Call our office to find out how we can help with your guardianship petition.