Can other relatives legally step in to help a child?

A previous post on this blog talked about how Springfield, Massachusetts, grandparents can use a guardianship to get custody over a grandchild that is in need of a stable home and whose parents, for whatever reason, are unwilling or unable to meet that need.

In some situations, however, grandparents may not be the best person to take care of a small child or even a teenager who can largely provide for himself. No matter how hard they may try and how loving they may be, the reality is that age and related medical issues, as well as just the ordinary burdens of life, can make it difficult for grandparents to provide for children, even if they were excellent parents.

Moreover, there may be younger relatives, aunts, uncles and even older siblings, who may be in a better position to step in on a child’s behalf and serve as a guardian. They may be able to provide the child with some semblance of life in a fully intact family.

In Massachusetts, any person who would be able to care for the child can in theory be appointed a guardian over the minor, although the judge must make a finding that the appointment will serve the child’s best interest.

Moreover, as this blog has mentioned previously, courts do observe certain priorities when appointing a guardian. For instance, if the child who needs a guardian is over 14, then the judge will generally appoint the guardian the child wants unless doing so would clearly not serve the child’s best interest.

Relatives who have a young relation that needs a stable home because the child’s parents are not available have legal options to help the child if they are able to do so. Guardianship is one of those options, and they are encouraged to speak to an attorney with experience in handling guardianships if they are interested in exploring this possibility further.

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