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      What Does the Process of Legal Guardianship Look Like in Sumner County, TN?

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      What is Guardianship?

      Legal parents of a child are responsible for the decisions regarding their children until the age of 18. What happens when a parent isn’t able to or chooses not to care for their child? A legal guardian can be appointed to care for the child and help foster and further them until the age of 18 once the legal process has been achieved.

      Common examples of when a child may need a legal guardian can include the legal parents passing away, being incarcerated, being unable to care for their children due to illness, or physical or mental incapacities are present.

      An eligible candidate may be legally appointed as guardian for a child through the courts. Read on to learn more about this process.

      What Does the Process Look Like to Appoint a Guardian in Tennessee?

      First and foremost, courts will ensure that all decisions regarding a child’s well-being or legal concerns are in their best interest. This process can mean that if it’s evident that a child isn’t properly being cared for, another adult may be more suitable to take on this essential role.

      Due to the delicate nature of this request to take on guardianship, courts will meticulously analyze whether or not guardianship is necessary and inspect the proposed guardian vigorously to ensure the legal appointment is in the child’s best interest at all costs.

      If one parent passes away, the other parent will likely be tasked with handling legal, physical, and emotional concerns for their child. Suppose both parents have passed, and an effective will is in place. In that case, the courts will look to this information and instruction that the parent has left to determine whether or not the proposed guardian is capable and appropriate to be appointed.

      If there isn’t a will, the courts will look for viable candidates who are willing to take on critical roles within the family, such as grandparents, older siblings, aunts, or uncles. If there isn’t one available or a willing candidate, the courts may seek an appropriate party outside the family to appoint as a legal guardian.

      What Makes a Proposed Guardian Eligible?

      A proposed guardian must be 18 years of age or older, void of incapacities such as mental or physical, and willing to take on the role of a legal guardian.

      Furthermore, the courts will closely analyze the financial aspects of the proposed guardian to determine if they can financially sustain their life and take on the needs of the child in question.

      The proposed guardian must also be able to effectively present to the courts that they can meet the child’s physical and emotional needs throughout the various chapters of their future life.

      Finally, they must prove that they can provide a safe and healthy environment for the child until they reach the age of 18.

      Other Aspects Courts Will Consider

      If a child is over the age of 12, courts may take into consideration who the child wishes to be their legal guardian. Though their opinion will be heard and respected, the courts aren’t legally bound to appoint the person the child wishes to care for, especially if the person isn’t a viable candidate due to possible unhealthy or inappropriate settings or financial means.

      If someone has a criminal background or there have been allegations of abuse or neglect in their past, they are likely going to be denied the option to become a legal guardian. Courts will thoroughly analyze each situation to determine if the allegations were false, the criminal background was significant, how long ago it occurred, and more.

      Suppose a legal parent is in the life of the child but has been deemed unfit or unable to care for their child appropriately. In that case, the courts may determine that they can be offered supervised or unsupervised visitation with their children and set up a reasonable schedule.

      Courts will always err to the side of the decision that is in the child’s best interest and are thorough in their investigations to ensure this occurs.

      What Decisions Will the Legal Guardian Be Tasked With?

      Legal guardians are responsible for all physical and emotional needs of the child in their care. The legal guardian determines decisions such as where they will live, what school they will attend, what sports or extracurricular activities they will participate in, and more.

      The legal guardian determines Medical questions or needs, such as when the child needs to seek medical attention, what procedures they choose to allow, and more. These are all essential tasks that the legal guardian will need to handle.

      All financial matters will need to be tended to by the guardian. This category includes all costs, such as primary care needs like food and clothing, medical costs, insurance, and more.

      It’s important to note that courts may require periodic check-ins from the appointed guardian to ensure that the child is being cared for adequately and that the guardian’s situation hasn’t significantly changed, making them ineligible to remain the child’s legal guardians.

      If it’s found through check-ins that the legal guardian is no longer a viable candidate, the courts will seek another person to appoint as guardian.

      The Experience You Can Rely On

      With multiple decades of combined experience, our team has vast knowledge and experience in helping clients with the legal aspects of family law. We work tirelessly for our clients to ensure the child’s best interests are the priority and that they can protect and care for their loved ones effectively and legally.

      Contact our office at 615-502-4336 to schedule your consultation and learn more about the next steps.

      We look forward to serving you.

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