When people of any age lack the capacity to make their own decisions, someone else must be assigned to make them instead. Anyone under 18 is considered to fall into this category, and their guardian is usually a parent. However, if a child’s parent is either absent or incapable of making decisions, a legal guardian must be appointed. Let’s look at limited vs full guardianship.
Two types of guardianship: Limited vs full
There are two types of guardianship. Adults can be appointed either full or limited guardianship by a probate court, often with the help of a spectacular family law attorney utah that parents and other concerned adults can trust with providing legal counsel and representation in family court.
In both of these circumstances, the legal guardian becomes responsible for the physical and personal well-being of the ward. But there are some key differences to understand.
How does full guardianship work?
Full guardianship can be granted to an adult in the interest of a child’s welfare. Typically, the guardian in these circumstances is a close relative. If one or both of the child’s parents are alive and competent to make their own decisions, consent to full guardianship may be granted.
Although full guardianship is usually assigned to a child’s close relative, technically, anyone can petition the court for an appointment. If the child is at least 14 years old, they can also petition the court for full guardianship.
When full guardianship might be granted
Full guardianship is usually granted in circumstances where a termination or suspension of parental rights has occurred. This may occur if the child’s parent or parents:
- Die without assigning guardianship
- Are incarcerated
- Are determined mentally incompetent
- Receive a court order assigning a full guardianship
Rights and responsibilities of full guardians
Full guardians of minor wards have all of the legal rights and responsibilities of parents. They are tasked with the care, custody, and control of the ward. They are expected to decide everything from where the child will live to what religion they will be raised in or what kind of education and medical care they receive.
Full guardianship can continue until the ward turns 18. Within that time, the guardian must file reports regarding their well-being and notifications if the child’s address changes.
Guardians are not obligated to provide financial support for their wards. They can petition biological parents to provide child support if a parent is alive.
How does limited guardianship work?
Limited guardianships usually occur when a child’s custodial parent or parents consent to the suspension or termination of parental rights and the appointment of a guardian. When this happens, the individual must submit a placement plan to probate court alongside the petition for guardianship, and the court must approve it.
Placement plans must state why parents are seeking limited guardianship, for how long, and who will provide financial support for the child. They must also detail how long parents who consent to limited guardianship will have with their children. It’s often the case that limited guardianships formalize consent for existing situations.
Find out more about the areas of family law in this related guide.
Get legal help with full and limited guardianship
Whether parents want help with assigning limited guardianship or a legal adult wants to petition for full guardianship, it’s always best to consult a lawyer first. Family lawyers know exactly what to expect from the process, when and how to file the required paperwork, and how to make a complex legal issue more straightforward.