The judge may even request a private meeting with the child. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter! Extended Family: Either parent can sign an authorization for a stepparent, grandparent, or another person to have a copy of the child’s records or discuss the records with someone at the practice. If a stepchild is hurt, and a quick medical decision is necessary, the stepparent has no legal authority to make that decision. However, you can also speak with a family law professional too. You can apply to be a child’s special guardian if you’re not their parent and you’re over 18. Guardianship of … If a biological parent wants to remain in the child's life, they have a legal right to do so. This could include documentation showing the biological parent is unfit. A stepparent may have not only rights with respect to a stepchild, as described above, but obligations, as well. As a step-parent, you don’t automatically have legal parental responsibility for your stepchild. To discuss your individual circumstances and your options for establishing guardianship in Pennsylvania, please contact Bierly & Rabuck to … Obtaining Guardianship of a Stepchild. The clerk will assign a judge to your case and will schedule a hearing where you, your spouse, the biological parent, and possibly your stepchild attend. When you complete the form, make sure you are entering accurate and truthful information. You can get parental responsibility for your stepchild through a parenting order or adoption. However, state law on custody can influence this issue. Some states also have options for parents to delegate parental powers to a stepparent through a power of attorney. As far as the law is concerned, you have no authority over them. As far as the law is concerned, you have no authority over them. Legal guardianship is one of the options available to parents who are planning for the care of their children in their absence due to a variety of situations, such as illness or incarceration. A guardian is responsible for the child’s wellbeing, including: 1. nurturing the child’s physical, mental and emotional development 2. making sure they have food, clothing and shelter 3. consenting to their medical care 4. receiving their health or educational information 5. receiving and responding to their legal notices 6. dealing with their legal matters 7. appointing someone to act as their guardian – in an emergency – if you can’t be there A guardian is required to make important decisions for the child, including: 1. the lang… © 2012-2020 Monitored Communications, LLC. Guardianship differs from custody in several ways. If you are dealing with a situation that has issues regarding child custody and legal guardianship, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced child custody lawyer . This includes responsibility for your stepchild's health, medical decisions, and school decisions. The court will also require you to attach any other documentation the court would find relevant. Once you've completed the form, you need to file it with the same clerk where you picked up the form. Stepparents often pursue legal guardianship of stepchildren because of the authority it provides them. The content is not legal advice. By following the steps below, you can petition for guardianship on your own. Privacy Policy. Custody only refers to a minor child, while guardianship can be of a child or an adult. There are however various ways in which a step-parent can obtain parental responsibility for their stepchild. As a guardian of your stepchild, you would have the same responsibilities as the biological parents. If the stepchild’s biological parent goes out of town for work or is in the military and deployed, the stepparent can’t make important decisions on behalf of their stepchild—even it is as simple as signing a permission form to go on a school field trip. Stepparents often pursue legal guardianship of stepchildren because of the authority it provides them. If the court is looking at whether a step-parent should pay child support, it will look at: the children's standard of living when they lived with the step-parent, and; how long they lived together. When someone gets custody of a child, they obtain parental or grandparental rights. Courts can still approve situations in which the parents do not provide their consent. A guardian may be assigned by a probate court when an adult becomes incapacitated or is otherwise unable to make important decisions on their own. Guardianship is the possession by a non-parent of the powers, rights, and duties which are necessary to protect, manage and care for a child. Because stepparents are not legal parents, the law generally does not require them to support their stepchildren. But if you feel that the individual is unfit as a parent, you can challenge them in court. But you can change that by assuming legal guardianship. A guardian is appointed by either a court of law or the biological parents themselves. It is important that you hire a Bryan family lawyer when doing so. You may then need to seek guardianship so you can make decisions for your stepchild. If your family is feuding, emotions run high and can turn ugly. Next they must determine that you are the best person to serve as that guardian. A step-parent adoption can be done, but to do that the rights of the child's biological father must be terminated. We can guide you through each step of the guardianship process, from filing the petition with the court to arranging the hearing to obtain the legal guardianship. We are not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. If you move forward without an attorney, it may negatively affect your legal … Unless you adopt (or are named guardian in advance), the court will be appointed guardian in such a circumstance. You can make an application with someone else. Courts always prefer a biological relative when determining guardianship of a child. You would have the same responsibilities as a parent for your stepchild's care, allowing you to make medical decisions and schooling arrangements. Below is an outline for how stepparent adoption and legal guardianship work generally in Canada, but local family law practitioners should always be consulted for information about the particulars in your region. This aspect of ID Guardianship law states that the court can end a guardianship if the Idaho guardian fails to provide adequate care. Obtaining legal guardianship of a child in Texas, for example, requires several essential legal steps. Unlike stepparent adoption, a legal guardianship doesn’t legally sever the ties between biological parents and their children. Being a stepparent can become a complicated matter when legal issues regarding the child in question arise. In general, step parents have no legal rights over a non-biological child unless they have legal custody. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters. By signing the form, you're swearing under oath that everything on that document is the truth. Legal guardianship can be granted for a short length of time (a few weeks or months) or more permanently until a minor child turns 18. Use of our products and services are governed by our This can be complicated. The process for obtaining legal rights and responsibilities for stepchildren can vary greatly by location. Unlike biological parents, a step-parent cannot obtain parental responsibility simply by marrying the child’s biological parent. As a stepparent, you have no legal relationship with your step-little-one. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law. States and courts almost always prefer biological parents over anyone else. If you are not certain of his consent, under the facts you have provided above, it is unlikely that you could prevail on an action to terminate his rights, because he has not technically abandoned the child. Your stepchild may be sent to live with biological relatives, and you may not be able to gain any visitation rights. Once this is determined, the stepparent can apply to the court to continue a relationship with the child on various levels. A permanent guardianship remains effective until your stepchild reaches age 18. If he consents, great - you can do it. SupportGuidelines.com: The Duty of Stepparents to Support Their Stepchildren, Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C: Legal Rights of Stepparents, FreeAdvice: Rights of a Stepparent in Making Legal Decisions for Stepchild, Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society: Stepparents in the United States, American Bar Association: Family Law in the 50 States, FamilyEducation.com: Stepparent Adoption -- Other Options. The custody rights of your stepchild depend on what’s in your stepchild’s best interests. As our parents age, our roles often reverse. This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. But until you take the step of receiving a court-ordered guardianship of your stepchild, you lack that legal authority. A court will not usually grant guardianship to someone unless one or both biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for their child. In emergency situations, you may not have the authority necessary to make a decision on behalf of your stepchild. Your stepchild's biological parents would still be responsible for providing financial support and would retain legal … Legal Guardianship. This is known as a joint claim. When a parent chooses to place their child in a legal guardianship, it’s to ensure the child receives necessary care that the legal parent can’t provide at the moment — but intends to after a certain period of time. It allows parents to name a caregiver and to give the caregiver certain legal rights regarding the care of the child(ren). Seek legal counsel – if necessary – to ensure success in your quest to secure guardianship of a minor. It only makes sense that you maintain legal authority to make decisions on their behalf as well. © LegalZoom.com, Inc. 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