New Jersey Guardianship Lawyer
Taking on the role of legal guardian over a child is an immensely consequential decision that can change a person’s life permanently. Whether you are stepping in temporarily to help out a child’s parents or seeking to protect a disabled adult, you may have a complicated legal battle ahead before a state court will grant you this responsibility.
A New Jersey guardianship lawyer can explain your options and walk you through the necessary steps to achieve your goal during a confidential consultation. Once retained, your dedicated family attorney can offer the support and legal guidance you may need to protect both your best interests and those of the child over whom you seek guardianship.
Criteria for Kinship Legal Guardianship
There are a number of reasons that a parent may find themselves unable to care for a child. Instances of this may include:
- Physical or mental illness
- Severe economic distress
- Problems with substance abuse
In these situations, a family member or family friend may serve as the child’s legal guardian on a temporary basis. To qualify for “kinship legal guardianship” in New Jersey, an applicant must have already been caring for the child in question for 12 months or more. An applicant must also demonstrate both that they have the financial capacity to meet the child’s needs and that being under their care would serve the child’s best interests.
Kinship legal guardianship is not the same as adoption or traditional guardianship, since it is generally meant to last only until the child’s biological parent(s) once again become capable of caring for their child themselves. Birth parents also retain certain parental rights while this form of guardianship is in effect, such as the right to consent to the child’s adoption and the responsibility to provide financial support if able to do so.
Aside from these few exceptions, individuals with kinship legal guardianship over a child have all the same obligations and rights as the birth parent would, including both day-to-day care responsibilities and longer-term concerns. A New Jersey attorney can provide guidance on how this form of guardianship works and whether it might be feasible in a given situation.
Seeking Guardianship Over a Disabled Child
Under state law, a child who turns 18 automatically gains the sole legal authority to make their own decisions regarding medical care and other matters, even if they suffer from a debilitating physical, cognitive, or emotional disability. In these situations, it may be appropriate for that child’s parent(s) to apply for guardianship over them, the same way one might seek guardianship over an elderly relative who cannot care for themselves anymore due to advanced age or a serious disease.
A guardian’s role can be limited or general, depending on whether the individual can make some decisions on their own or is completely incapacitated. This is usually a permanent measure that could deprive the individual of self-determination for the rest of their life. Accordingly, it is always worth discussing this type of guardianship with a well-versed lawyer in New Jersey.
Speak with a New Jersey Guardianship Attorney Today
Guardianship is a serious legal matter with significant and long-lasting consequences. It is crucial to consider all your options and make sure you fully understand what this obligation entails before taking legal action to pursue it.
A knowledgeable New Jersey guardianship lawyer can give you all the information you need to make the best decision for your loved ones. Call today to learn more about your options.