Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
Local 413-315-5518
Toll Free 877-622-6089

Family Law Attorney

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

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Guardianship Archives

What kinds of decisions can a guardian make?

For many Massachusetts residents, the American ideal of the nuclear family is simply unrealistic. There are many reasons why a child may not be able to be raised in a nuclear family. Sometimes one or both of the parents pass away, there is abuse in the home, or the parents are simply unfit to raise the child. In such situations, it can be in the children's best interests to be raised by someone other than a biological parent.

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.

Questions MA grandparents should ask before becoming guardians

In Massachusetts, just like everywhere else in the United States, a grandparent may have to assume guardianship, sometimes, after planning carefully or sometimes, unexpectedly. Whichever way it starts out, the guardianship of a minor can be quite overwhelming. Each family has its own resources, and a grandparent will probably find it helpful to ask some questions before taking over the responsibility of the child.

Duties of a guardian toward a child with special needs

Guardianship of a minor child will be awarded to a relative in most cases, or an unrelated person or even a government agency in cases where the biological parents are unable to care for the child. A child who needs guardianship might have special needs due to an intellectual disability that leaves the child unable to make decisions or makes decision-making a challenge. A guardianship for a special needs child might be awarded even after the child has attained the age of majority, which is 18-years-old under Massachusetts law.

More grandparents get child custody during heroin epidemic

As most Massachusetts residents know, family courts are inclined to award child custody to a biological parent of a minor child when a family is split apart by divorce. In some cases, however, the best interests of a child lie elsewhere and not with the biological parents. Many times, third parties, such as grandparents and even distant relatives, family friends or even government agencies, are better options for awarding child custody. In all of these cases a parent has been deemed unfit by a family court, usually because of drug addiction, child abuse, mental incapacity or incarceration.

What are the duties of a third-party guardian in Massachusetts?

On rare occasions a family court judge in Massachusetts may find that neither biological parent of a child can serve the best interest of the child. On those rare occasions, third parties, such as other relatives, including grandparents, or even government-appointed officers, can become the guardian of minor children.

Role of a GAL investigator in Massachusetts child custody cases

Massachusetts divorce and child custody are complex issues. Family courts in Springfield may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) investigator to investigate the matters involved in the legal custody of a child after a couple has filed for divorce. The GAL investigator is responsible for looking into the matters that involve the best interests of the child, including custody and visitation rights, parental or guardianship rights or anything that may impact the judgment by the court.

Things to know before appointing a guardian in Massachusetts

Massachusetts guardianship laws allow biological parents or respondents to give legal custody of a child to either a family member or the third party. Guardianship is similar to adoption in that it provides a minor child with an adult to provide care. Unlike adoption, which is permanent, guardianship can be temporary or permanent. When a court appoints a guardian for a child, the personal welfare, education, housing, medical and education decisions become the responsibility of the guardian.

What are the court-ordered duties of a guardian in Massachusetts?

If a Massachusetts parent is unable to look after a child, the court can order a guardian to assume that duty. The guardian is expected to take over the parental responsibility of caring for that child. So, what are the circumstances under which the court will appoint a guardian? The court can appoint a guardian if one of three circumstances is present.

The duties and responsibilities of a guardian in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, as with many other states in the U.S., a parent is sometimes unable to take care of a child. In such cases, a Massachusetts court may give legal custody of the child to a third party, who then assumes guardianship of the child. This guardian is supposed to provide a stable and safe home environment to the child.

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
1380 Main Street, Suite 302
Springfield, MA 01103

Toll Free: 877-622-6089
Phone: 413-315-5518
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