Temporary Guardianship-Who Will Step in If You Can’t Be There?

Most parents have a plan in place for seeing that their children are cared for if they die.

What is often overlooked is what will happen to their children should they become temporarily incapable of caring for them and only need someone to step in and take over parental duties for a short time.

Short term care, or Temporary Guardianship, is especially important for a number of reasons.  One situation that this is important for is if you are a single parent and your child’s other parent is not in the picture or is unfit to take over their care.

Or if either or both parents travel a lot, and the other one works full time.  If something happens, who will temporarily have the ability, rights, and knowledge to make decisions on your children’s behalf?

Having a temporary guardianship plan in place before it is needed will save time and upset should a situation arise in which it is required.

Read on to discover what temporary guardianship is, how to determine who you want to have this guardianship, and why it may be necessary.

What Is Temporary Guardianship?

Think of temporary guardianship as substitute parenting. Most temporary guardianships last up to six months, but they vary depending on the time you and the guardian agree upon. Temporary Guardianship is not signing over your child permanently.

The temporary guardian will have all the decision-making power you currently have as a parent. They will decide what school your child attends, take them to the doctor, and make all other significant decisions.

You can limit what decisions they can make by listing restrictions in the paperwork, but doing so may not be logical if you are nowhere around to make those decisions.

Go into a discussion about temporary guardianship with the idea that the person you choose will be your child’s parent in every aspect during the time the temporary guardianship is active.

Why Might I Need to Appoint a Temporary Guardian?

The most often stated reason for needing a temporary guardian is when neither parent is physically able to care for the child. A temporary guardianship may happen due to something like a car accident or illness that requires an extended hospital stay. These types of contingencies can be especially necessary for single parents.

Single parents who cannot depend on the child’s other parent to be there are most likely to need to find a safe place for their child during these times. If there is no plan made, the state may step in and assign someone the duty of guardianship. This guardian could be a family member that you do not want raising your children or a foster home where they will be with strangers. 

Some parents find themselves unable to care for their child due to situations involving mental health issues or a drug or alcohol addiction. They may need a temporary break to enter rehab or another hospital. In these cases, you will need to make it very clear about how long the guardianship will last and what the terms of reclaiming custody involve.

These are situations in which the wrong choice for a guardian can end up getting the law involved, and it will put you in a position of having to prove you are capable of caring for the children. 

In still other instances, a parent or parents may find themselves in a situation in which they cannot financially care for a child.

For example, a single mother may find herself out of work and being evicted. Rather than face having her children live homeless on the streets or go hungry, she may sign over temporary guardianship to a family member or trusted friend until she can provide appropriately for the children.

How Do I Go About Choosing a Temporary Guardian?

One of the first things you need to consider is who is a regular presence in your children’s lives. Having you gone for an extended period will be difficult, and it is essential that they know the person they are left with. Be sure you understand what the person is like and that you can trust them to treat your children well and be a good role model.

Next, discuss the matter with the person. Not all people will be willing to take on this kind of responsibility.

Then, you need to create an agreement that has to be signed by both you and the temporary guardian. If any child is over fourteen, they may also be required to sign the paper.

There are many places online where you can find pre-made forms that need to be filled out. Alternatively, you may write one yourself.

Be sure to include as much information as possible, including dates that can be filled in when the time arises.

Finally, have the paper notarized and ensure both parties have a copy.

Final Thoughts

Having to turn over the critical decision-making for your children is never an easy decision. Knowing that someone will step in and continue to follow your plans and care for your children as you would help make the time less stressful.

Setting up temporary guardianship can be done quickly, without legal involvement. If, however, you have questions or would like to be sure you have covered all the legal loopholes in the process, give our office a call.

We will be more than happy to talk with you and help in any way possible to get you through this important process.

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