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The responsibilities of a Massachusetts guardian

This blog has on several previous occasions how a guardianship can give a Springfield, Massachusetts grandparent, relative or other responsible adult the authority to rear and raise a child when that child’s parents are unwilling or unable to do so.

Along with these important rights, however, can come important responsibilities which a guardian must uphold. The failure to do so can mean the guardian gets punished under Massachusetts law but, more importantly, it can also be grounds for ending the guardianship or finding a new guardian. Guardians should in this respect be cautioned that their rights are easier to take away than those of a child’s legal parent.

The biggest responsibility of a guardian is to act in the child’s best interests. This means, for example, that if the child happens to have any property, including child support income, the guardian will have to be able to show that it is being used for the child’s benefits. Generally speaking, the court will expect that the guardian will follow all visitation orders and other orders with regard to counseling, etc. Basically, though, the guardian has to put the interests of the child first.

Second, the guardian will each year need to file a report with the court describing how the child is faring in the guardianship. This is required under the law and also helps the court determine if the guardianship remains in the child’s best interests. This report is signed under oath and includes several detailed questions which the guardian must answer accurately and completely.

While guardians have a lot of power to help the children in their care, they also need to remember that with this power comes important legal responsibilities.