We often talk about family law, divorce and so forth. But one aspect that is not always considered is the legal situation when someone is a guardian as opposed to a parent (for example if the parents have passed away and a child needs to be taken care of.) In this article, we are going to look at some possible situations that can come up and what legal rights and responsibilities a parental guardian has.
Deciding who should become a guardian
If you are a parent then you should include a nominated parental guardian in your Will. While it is not something you may wish to think about it is vital to be prepared so that in the event of anything happening you can be assured that your children can be looked after by someone you trust.
One crucial point to consider is that in legal terms naming someone as a godparent is not the same as a guardian. If you name someone as a godparent they may not necessarily be legally deemed fit to look after children depending on the results of an assessment.
In legal terms if you are the guardian of a child you are expected to look after their health and wellbeing and this essentially means making decisions about where they go to school, where they live and so forth.
While someone can be named as a guardian in a Will it is social services who assess whether or not you can be legally defined as such. This is done through the Family Proceedings Court, a less formal court appearance but one that has the very serious task of deciding if people are fit to look after children.
Naturally going to a hearing like this can be daunting. A court will take into account your personal circumstances and whether it is appropriate to look after the child or children in question.
This can be very difficult which is why it is important to have the right kind of representation.
Unfortunately, we are often brought up with the cliché in the media about lawyers and legal representatives being cold or unemotional. There is some truth in that you do need some distance in order to assess a case but this is not the same as being uncaring or distant.
A good legal representative will want to work with you. During the initial consultation, they will go over your situation and explain the chances of getting a positive verdict in a guardianship claim. This will be done in a calm manner but also in a way that recognises that it can be a difficult and emotional time.
Also, it is important to have legal representatives who understand the case before them and having a specialist with the right experience and qualifications represent you will allow you to have a stronger case.
If you would like more information on legal issues concerning being a parental guardian or would like to discuss a hearing about becoming a guardian please contact us today and we will be happy to put you in touch with one of our specialists to discuss your case in more detail.