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What is temporary guardianship?

A guardian is a person who is responsible for taking care of a person who cannot take care of themselves. In Massachusetts the courts can appoint guardians for adults who are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions to support their wellbeing. They can also appoint guardians for kids who do not have parents or other adults able to provide them with support.

If a child’s parents are deceased then they may be appointed a permanent guardian. However, under Massachusetts law temporary guardianship also exists and when circumstances support it temporary guardianship may be used to provide a child with a responsible adult who will see to their needs until their permanent guardian is available.

A term of temporary guardianship only lasts for 90 days. At the end of 90 days the temporary guardian no longer has guardianship rights over their charge. However, if a court is unable to secure the child with a permanent guardian by the end of the temporary guardian’s term then that term may be extended an additional 90 days to ensure that the child has a person managing their health and welfare.

No parent wants to think about losing the ability to care for their children. However, guardianship is a reality for many individuals who never intended to lose the capacity to provide their children with the love and support they need. It can be helpful for parents to consider who they would want to serve as guardians of their kids in the event they were no longer able to manage as parents, as in some cases courts are able to accommodate parental wishes regarding guardianship.