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When someone cannot take care of thesmelves a relative and/or friend can be appointed to help them as their guardian. You may be appointed guardian of their person and/or their property.
This is commonly done when a parent gets older and cannot handle their day to day affairs, perhaps they suffer from an illness like Altheimer's and need your help. Or, perhaps a child is born autistic or has an accident in life and now needs your help. These would be appropriate situations when a guardian would be appointed.
When you decide to become a guardian we will fill out various documents for you that go to the Court. The Court will usually appoint a lawer for the AIP (alleged incapacitated person) and this lawyer will represent the AIP. This attorney will also speak with you about your care plans for the AIP. You will have to be fingerprinted and provide various documents to the court. Eventually, there will be a court date that you must appear at with us along with the AIP. If all goes well, you will be appointed.
You can have more than one guardian and share the responsibility and you may also have an alternate guardian just in case something happens to you.
When you file to become a guardian some other relatives may have to be notified so the Court can see if they object. If someone objects and we cannot work out an agreement your case will take substantially longer to complete and cost more money. It is always better to try and have an uncontested friendly guardianship.
Finally, if the AIP can speak and does not want you to be guardian, the AIP's attorney will tell the Court this and we will see if an arrangement can be made where you can be the guardian but we address the AIP's concerns. For example, perhaps it's an elderly parent who doesn't want you to have full control of all the money. So, we might make an agreement where you agree to give the AIP a certain amount of money weekly from their disability or pension. In the past, I have worked out several arrangements so that all parties are satisfied and your case does not "blow-up".Guardianship Victories
RECALCITRANT MOM - Our client's elderly mom was retired and her only income was her pension and social security. She firmly believed in tithing 10% of her money to the church. Due to this and her spending, she LOST HER HOME in foreclosure. Clearly, she was unable to take care of her finances herself. Her son wanted to be guardian but the mother objected as she wanted to keep giving money to the church even if she had no money left to pay rent. Even after we pointed out that she was unable to care for her finances and would have been out on the street but for her son, she did not agree. Her primary concern was that from her income, she could give money to the church. We spoke with her attorney and worked out an arrangement where we agreed that once her back bills were paid up and her current expenses were paid, 10% of her money could be sent to the church, but then if she had nothing left to spend so be it. She agreed and her son was appointed guardian.
CONFUSED GRANDFATHER - Our client wanted to get guardianship of her grandfather. Her uncle (the grandfather's son) strongly contested it saying he was in charge of his dad's money. However, the grandfather had told our client that he did not trust his son, but due to the grandfather's age sometimes he changed his mind. Our client had a poor relationship with her uncle who she did not trust. Coupled with the fact that the grandfather's house was about to be sold and she did not know where the money was goine, she decided to file for guardianship. After protracted meetings we were able to make out a settlement agreement to keep the family peace. The uncle would be guardian BUT he would have to furnish detailed banking records and property records to our client on a regular basis so she could verfy that the money was being used to care for her grandfather.Adoption
When you adopt a child, you legally become their parent as if they were born to you. Adoptions can be contested or uncontested. An uncontested one where all parties agree will usually require various papers to be submitted to the court and one court appearance. A contested one will involve several court appearances and will cost substantially more money.
Sometimes, you might not need to file for an adoption as a guardianship application can be done instead, it depends on what your goals are.
When you file for an adoption you must have a legitimate interest in a parent/child relationship! So, for example you can't adopt your adult girlfriend/boyfriend to obtain some type of Government benefit-that is not allowedYour adoption documents will include financial information, fingerprinting, and an evaulation of all adults who will be living in the child's household. If you anticipate any problems with this thorough background check, let us know before we file the petition so appropriate strategies can be discussed.
If you are filing for adoption to get a child a greencard, you must do so before the child turns 16 years old. The courts are often backlogged so start A MINIMUM OF ONE YEAR before that if possible.Adoption Victories
UNCOOPERATIVE DAD - Our client had been taking care of his deceased relative's child since his birth. The child had a large sum of money in trust due to his mother's death. The father hardly ever saw the child and was in and out of jail. After about 10 years the relative wanted to adopt the child but the dad objected. When an adoption is done like this, the natural dad's parental rights are terminated and he would not agree. We had to have a trial that went on and on for numerous court appearances until the Judge made a decision granting custody to our client. The Judge understood that this dad really never cared about his son but clearly thought that by "blocking" the adoption he could get his hands on the child's money. Very sad but in the end the child won.
SIJS (Special Immigrant Juvenille Status) - Our client's neice was born in another Country and living with her dad. Unfortunately, her mother was not in the picture. When she was about 15 years old her dad got sick and it was going to be very difficult for him to care for her. She came to America to live with her uncle but her visitor visa was only good for a few months. Under standard INS rules, her uncle could adopt her and then file to get her a greencard but this would have to be done before she turned 16 so we were out of time. Instead, we filed a SIJS petition which involved a Court finding that her dad could not take care of her. Once that finding was made, we could petition INS to give her a greencard which could be done even though she was over 16. It was a typically long arduous process but she won and she can now remain in America with her relative.
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Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising. This website provides general information. Due to complexities and constant changes in the law, exceptions to general principles of law, and variations of state laws, seek professional legal advice before acting on any matter!
Some of the information on this website only pertains to certain states. Accordingly seek professional legal advice before acting on any matter.