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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

A look at guardianship in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts and throughout the United States, there is a persisting image of the nuclear family: the mother, father and children all remain together in an inseparable unit. However, as many Massachusetts residents can attest, it is not always possible or realistic for families to stick together. Divorce, for example, can make it necessary for one parent to retain custody of a child, while the other parent is limited to certain visitation times. Sometimes, it is also necessary for a relative or other person in a child's life to pursue guardianship.

Guardianship of a minor is not the same as adoption. Rather, a guardian is someone who is appointed by the court to care, often temporarily, for a minor when the parent is unable to do so themselves.

A guardian may be designated in a will or other legal document. Guardians must make a number of decisions, including, but not limited to, making sure education arrangements are made, consenting to treatment or medical care, purchasing personal items such a clothes, cars, household good and food, as well as ensuring that all financial matters are properly handled.

A parent or both parents of a child may fall into a situation where they are temporarily unable to care for a child. Guardianship offers an alternative to having the Department of Families, also known as the DCF, come in and claim custody of the child. Instead, a guardian can be appointed, who can be the child's grandparent, uncle, aunt or other relative or familiar person in the child's life.

Guardianship can bring about many complex legal issues and emotions. This is why it is often prudent to have a family law attorney representing both sides of a guardianship case.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Guardianship basics," accessed on Sept. 14, 2015

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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