Minor Guardianship: What You Need to Know
In Michigan, a no-fault divorce state, family courts are very concerned with the rights of minors. Legal and physical custody. are two separate areas of family law: while physical custody grants one parent the right to live with their child or children, legal custody allows a parent to make decisions about education, medical care, and other factors.
What if neither parent is able to provide the best possible home for their child or children? In this case, minor guardianship is beneficial. Of course, it is ideal for children to be raised in a physically, mentally, and psychologically nurturing environment.
However, there is often confusion about who can petition the courts on behalf of a minor they wish to take guardianship of. What is the process, and who is allowed?
Who Can Petition the Court for Guardianship of a Minor?
If a child’s biological mother or father are deemed unfit to provide a stable home for them, a court-appointed guardian can serve as an intermediary until the child is 18. As stated in Section 700 of the Michigan Legislature, any “person interested in the welfare of a minor, or a minor if 14 years of age or older, may petition for the appointment of a guardian for the minor.”
This means that teenagers are granted considerable autonomy in family court. An adolescent who feels safe living with a grandparent, an aunt, or a trusted family friend is permitted to advocate for themselves.
What Are Your Requirements as a Guardian?
Guardianship in Michigan does not require parental consent—at least not for full-time guardianship, in which the minor resides under your care 24/7. In most cases, it should be mentioned, a parent does not lose legal custody entirely. As a child’s guardian, your obligations are the same as the biological parents’ would be: providing them short- and long-term necessities, including food, shelter, and education.
Your financial capacity to provide for the minor will absolutely be taken into consideration once you have petitioned the courts. However, the courts may also order the parents to fulfill their child support duties, even if they have chosen to abandon their child.
Choosing to take on the role of guardian for a non-biological child is not a decision that should be taken lightly. If you are considering guardianship of a minor, it is best to speak to a family law attorney who has expertise navigating the labyrinthian Michigan family law court system.