Reasons for Guardianship of a Minor
In the state of Indiana, one may have guardianship over a minor for a variety of reasons. The law requires a Guardianship of a Minor be established, for example, where mesothelioma has caused the death of a mom or dad and left a child without a living parent. These cases involving the disease, mesothelioma, (which is asbestos related and today, very heavily litigated) are producing a large number of children who are left without a parent and in need of a guardian. Or, it could be where a minor has been involved in an auto accident and there is a settlement awarded from a judgment or through a settlement agreement. It might be that a minor’s parents are unable to care for the child and someone besides the natural parents have to assume the role of caretaker. It could be that a child must temporarily reside with a relative, such as a grandparent, because of some incapacity of a parent or parents.There are many reasons why Guardianship of a Minor might be required. Guardianship over a minor can be over the person and/or the estate of the minor. In those cases involving automobile accidents, or wrongful death cases where a parent or parents have been killed, a Guardianship will always be required for the minor child or children.
Sometimes, a couple will marry. One of the individuals has a child either from a prior marriage or a prior relationship. The other individual can file for either guardianship over the minor, or sometimes adoption, so as to enable that non-natural parent to exercise true parental rights over the minor.
Is a Lawyer Necessary for a Guardianship of a Minor
Few will be able to navigate the tricky waters of establishing a guardianship without a lawyer. There are certain statutory requirements that must be complied with, as well a compliance with certain forms. Evidence must be presented that is legally sufficient. Sometimes a guardianship over a child or children will require evidence that is unusual, such as where a child comes from a CHINS (Child in Need of Services) situation. If a child is in the custody of the state, there are particular steps that must be complied with that can be rather complex, and there is some evidence the Court is going to want to see and hear. It would certainly be advisable to have an attorney for the Guardianship of a Minor.
Guardianship over a minor does not take a lot of time.
Once the proper paperwork is filed, it is simply a matter of the Court setting a hearing that fits within its schedule. That may be a few weeks, or in some less busy counties, a few days. The actual hearing is fairly simple. The lawyer will ask questions of those seeking guardianship and will present any other evidence necessary, to the Court. Then, the Court will generally ask a few questions, and sometimes will question the minor, who will typically be required to be present, absent a good reason (which needs to be approved by the Court).
Costs of a Guardianship of a Minor
An uncontested Guardianship of a Minor is usually going to be under $1000.00, including filing fee costs. However, if a guardianship becomes contested, there is no way to establish the costs, since there now exists the need for evidence that ordinarily would not be required, plus there will often be a need for an expert. What would have been a simple hearing is now a full fledged trial. Trials are expensive. It is not unusual for a trial over Guardianship of a Minor to cost several thousand dollars in attorney fees and hundreds of dollars in costs.
Guardianship of a Minor only lasts until the minor reaches majority
Once the child reaches his or her majority (age 18), there is no parental rights that can be exercised. Therefore, if a parent or parents have a child that is mentally handicapped, or physically disabled, that parent will need to establish a new guardianship. This time, it will not be a Guardianship of a Minor, but will be guardianship over an adult.
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