If you wish to file for guardianship of a minor in New York – a person under the age of 18, you’ll need to engage the services of a guardianship attorney to help you navigate the legal process. New York guardianship laws are prone to frequent change, and can be complex, which is why it’s a good idea to hire a guardianship lawyer to assist you with this, often emotional, procedure.
What is a legal guardian?
A guardian is a person (or sometimes an organization, such as a child protection agency) who has the legal responsibility of caring for a child. You may appoint a New York guardianship lawyer to advise you and submit your case to the hearing.
Why might a guardian be needed?
If the parents of a child are incapacitated – through illness, for example – they may wish to make provision for their children to be cared for by someone else. Guardians might also be appointed by the State in cases where the parents are deemed unfit, unable to care for their children, or have passed away without making suitable provision for their children.
Who can be a guardian?
Aside from child protection agencies, it’s most common for adult relatives of the child, or a family friend to take on the role.
Where to file for guardianship
Your guardianship attorney will guide you through the process of filing a petition for guardianship in the Family Court, which has similar authority and jurisdiction to the Surrogate and County Courts, which are also empowered to appoint guardians. These latter also have authority over property belonging to minors.
Which documents will be submitted to the court?
- The following documents will be brought to the court hearing by your guardianship lawyer:
- Proof of identity of the person applying for guardianship – a picture ID, such as a drivers’ license or passport, is preferable.
- Proof of residence of the person applying for guardianship.
- The child or children’s birth certificate(s).
- In cases where the parent (or parents) are no longer living, the Death Certificate(s) – original documents, not copies.
- If the child is 14 years old or older, and cannot attend the hearing, then a signed and notarized “(Consent of Person Over 18 and) Preference of Person Over 14 Regarding Appointment of Guardian” form will need to be tendered.
- In cases where the parent (or parents) is still living, a “Waiver of Process, Renunciation Or Consent to (Letters of Guardianship) (Standby Guardianship)” should be completed by the parent (or parents). This again, needs to be signed and notarized.
What is the procedure at a Family Court hearing?
Essentially, the prospective guardian provides a testimony, which the court uses to determine whether they would be suitable to take on the responsibility, and whether it would be in the best interests of the child. The court may also take into account the wishes of the minor in cases where they are over 14 years old.
How long does the process take?
Emergency or temporary guardianship may be granted within a couple of days but for other forms of guardianship, the process could take up to two months. Your guardianship lawyer will be able to advise you.
If you or someone you know wishes to file a petition for guardianship of a minor, New York guardianship lawyer, Richard Cary Spivack would be happy to assist you through the process. Call 718-544-1000 today for a free consultation.