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Options other than full-blown guardianship

As this blog has discussed, guardianship of a minor is an option that relatives of minor children can use when someone needs to step in and take care of those children. This scenario arises often in situations where a parent, due to a drug addiction, mental illness or other issue, is either unwilling or unable to care for their own children.

However, a guardianship may also be an option when a parent is deployed, physically sick or has died prematurely.

Especially since a guardianship will involve going to court and may involve litigation, particularly if the child’s parents do not agree to the guardianship, it may be helpful for Springfield, Massachusetts residents to understand what their options are short of going to court to get a guardianship.

These options may also be good bargaining chips should a relative need to convince a parent to give up some control of their children but will not be able to get consent to a guardianship.

By way of example, a parent can via a legal document sign over to just about any adult the authority to make important decisions related to schooling and healthcare on the child’s behalf. This means that someone who is caring for a child long term can meet the vast majority of the child’s needs without needing a guardianship or having to track down the child’s parent.

In cases where a bit more is needed, a parent can appoint a responsible adult as a temporary agent for the parent to act as if the caregiver were the child’s parent in virtually every respect.

In this sense, this type of appointment is very much like a guardianship, except the parent, not the court, provides the legal authority and, at the parent’s discretion, can revoke that authority. Moreover, temporary appointments only last 60 days, after which they have to be renewed.