When Granting Guardianship to a Family Member Is a Bad Idea

One of the most challenging things parents have to consider is that they may one day need someone to step in and take over the job of raising their children due to an unexpected accident or illness.

Courts typically grant guardianship of children to the surviving parent. But what happens if you are a single parent? Or both parents die or become incapacitated at the same time?  Or if one parent is unfit? 

In these cases, the courts will start to look to family members unless you have taken steps to grant guardianship to someone else.  Depending on how your family dynamic is, this might cause a great deal of anxiety! 

In fact, in some families, granting guardianship to any family member might not be a good idea!

Here are several circumstances that would make family members a poor choice to raise your children.

Your Family has a History of Abuse

Not everyone grew up in a loving family. If you grew up in a family in which you were abused in any way, you likely do not want to put your children into the same kind of situation.

If there was/is regular alcohol abuse or drug use this perspective might also be true. Children become at risk when they are left to fend for themselves because the adult who is supposed to be in charge is a victim of addiction.

We are discussing family here, but it is important to consider the family of ex-spouses or the exes of those who might gain custody of your children.

When you have a list of the family that absolutely should not have custody in any way of your children, you will want to gather any paperwork that proves your reasoning for not wanting the courts to give them guardianship.

Keep a copy of these papers with your essential paperwork, provide a copy to the person you want to have custody, and if you have a lawyer, make sure they also have a copy.

Adopting Your Children Would Create a Financial Hardship

Sometimes family members would willingly step up and take care of your children. Raising kids is, however, an enormous financial responsibility.

Unless you have a great deal of money, you can set aside to help pay expenses over the coming years, adding even one child to an established family may cause a financial burden. If you have several children, this makes it extremely difficult.

You do not want to put your family members in a position that will make it hard for them to provide for their own needs and that of their children while also providing for yours.

These people may be willing to try, and they may even be considered good choices as temporary guardians until a permanent one can be found.

Think about the custody of your children in financial terms may seem hard when it is their safety in question, but it is a practical matter that cannot be overlooked. 

And if you plan early enough, you might be able to set up a trust or will to help alleviate any financial burden your family would have from your untimely death.

Your Family is Unwilling or Unable to Adopt Your Children

Your parents raised you and any siblings. They may have been wonderful parents and given you all the love they had, and you might think they would make the perfect choice for granting guardianship.

Take time to think this through. First, they are older than you. It is likely that time has created a situation in which they are no longer physically able to keep up with the rigors of raising a child.

They may also be getting to the age at which they will not be around long enough to see your children to maturity.

You likely want to avoid a replication of the trauma and uncertainty that led your children to need new parents to raise them. 

On the other hand, maybe you have no family members who are willing to step up and take over: Your parents are enjoying their retirement, your siblings have lives of their own that they do not want to upset, or there may be other reasons.

Whatever the case, you do not want to choose someone who would refuse the responsibility and leave the care of your children up to a court or foster system.

We Can Help

Choosing the appropriate person for granting guardianship is a process that takes time and a lot of thought, as well as communication with them.

If you would like help making sure your final wishes are set down correctly, contact us.

Our knowledgeable lawyers will gladly answer all your questions and help you reach the place where you feel comfortable with your final guardianship choice.

We will gladly help you with this, and any other matter pertaining to it by making sure your estate is in order and your children are cared for by the person you feel will raise them as you would.

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