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The duties and responsibilities of a guardian in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, as with many other states in the U.S., a parent is sometimes unable to take care of a child. In such cases, a Massachusetts court may give legal custody of the child to a third party, who then assumes guardianship of the child. This guardian is supposed to provide a stable and safe home environment to the child.

Guardianship entrusts the individual with the same responsibilities and powers as a parent. The individual must take care of the child and look after the child's medical needs. Unless the court orders otherwise, the guardian may also make decisions about when the child can visit biological parents. The guardian is also expected to take care of the child's property and, if possible, save money for the child's future.

However, there are certain limits to a guardian's powers. Although the guardian can take care of the medical needs of the child, guardianship does not entitle the individual to give antipsychotic medicines. The individual must also get consent when conducting extraordinary treatments, or while admitting the child to a mental health care facility. Further, the individual cannot end the guardianship without going through the courts.

If the parent is able to take care of the child once again, then the parent must obtain the court's permission before resuming care of the child. After the appointment of the guardian, the court monitors the guardianship of the child. The guardian is expected to fill out a form, akin to an annual report. This annual report gives details about the minor's current situation and also highlights any changes that may have occurred with the child.

Source: MassGuardianshipAssociation.org, "What does a Guardian of a Minor do?" Accessed on Jan.26, 2015

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