One of the biggest portions of family law that has a tendency to be overlooked is that of guardianship, or who essentially has custody of the child if the parent cannot act as the parent. New York’s Family Court handles matters of guardianship and determines who is legally responsible for any minor child until that child turns 18. There are some very unfortunate situations that would require a parent to appoint a standby guardian for their child.
Standby guardianship is often the route taken when a parent becomes terminally ill and want to make sure the child has a legal guardian after they pass away. Parents will often want to make sure that their child is not orphaned and sent into a foster care system if that can be avoided in any way. This may be included in part of a parent’s will. If the parent who is ill chooses a standby guardian to care for their child upon their death, the standby guardian will have to petition the court to officially become the child’s guardian. One common complication that may arise is if there was a custody agreement in place and the custodial parent passes away but has appointed a standby guardian. If there is another parent who also has some level of custody of the child, the court will have to determine if they are the better parental guardian than the person who was appointed a standby guardian. The court will always do what is in the best interest of the child.
If you are seriously ill and are the custodial parent of your child, it is best to prepare for any unfortunate situations that may occur if the illness progresses further. Ask an attorney how appointing a standby guardian can give you peace of mind that your child will be cared for if you become unable to care for your child yourself.
If you need quality and compassionate legal services from an experienced collaborative divorce lawyer or the guidance from a seasoned mediator, contact Leslye M. Schlesinger today.