Helping You Provide the Care They Need in Bernalillo County & throughout New Mexico
A guardian is someone who takes care of a child’s needs. These needs include shelter, education, food, and medical care, as well as managing the child’s finances. If you are seeking guardianship of a child or you are seeking a guardian ad litem to represent your child during divorce, custody or kinship guardianship proceedings, our team of Albuquerque guardianship attorneys at NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC can help.
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A guardianship is a legal relationship between a minor child and a guardian that gives the guardian certain rights and obligations regarding the child. A guardianship does not permanently end the legal relationship between a child and his or her biological parents; instead, the guardian takes over the role of the parent until a guardian is no longer needed to protect the child’s best interest.
An adoption, on the other hand, permanently alters the legal relationship between a child and his or her biological parents. The adopted parents become the legal parents and the biological parents give up all parental rights and obligations. This means the biological parents no longer have a right to raise the child or owe child support, and the child can no longer automatically inherit from his or her biological parents.
How Do Guardianships End?
There are several events that can trigger the end of a guardianship. These events include:
- The death of the child
- The child reaches the legal age of majority (typically 18 years old in most states)
- A judge determines that a guardianship is no longer necessary or beneficial for the child
- The sole purpose of the guardianship was to manage the child’s finances, and the child’s financial assets are exhausted
Guardians can also ask a court to be relieved of his or her guardianship, at which point the court will appoint a new guardian.
Guardian ad Litem
A “guardian ad litem” is a court-appointed representative who stands in the shoes of the minor during court proceedings that involve the minor in some way. In New Mexico, the guardian ad litem is a lawyer. This sometimes happens in divorces and disputes regarding custody of children when the parents are not married to each other or any other situation where the court determines the minor cannot successfully represent his or herself.
Guardian to Non-Biological Children
If you are planning on taking care of a child you live with on a long-term basis, but this child isn’t biologically yours, you should consider becoming a legal guardian. Without guardianship, you will have difficulty getting medical care for the child, enrolling him or her in school, as well as many other problems. Guardianship creates a legal right, giving you say in the child’s future as a guardian, whereas a mere caretaker would not have.
Risks of Choosing Guardianship
There are many good reasons a person may not want to become a guardian. Filing for guardianship could set off a dispute you may want to avoid for both the child’s sake and yours. You might also know the child’s biological parents would object and make the guardianship process extremely difficult.
You can still raise a child without guardianship, but you will have significant difficulties in doing so. Many institutions such as hospitals and schools require parental authorization. Each state has different rules, so research your state’s laws to reveal any potential problems you might have.
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