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What is a guardianship?

Many Louisianans are familiar with adoption and how that can relate to parental rights and one's legal responsibility for a child. However, not as many are familiar with the concept of guardianship. Guardianship can prove extremely beneficial for parents, those seeking guardianship and children. We hope this post will help shed some light on the topic and help individuals better determine if guardianship is something that they should consider.

A guardian is an individual who has the legal right and responsibility to take care of a child and his or her needs. These duties typically fall on parents, but when they are unavailable or incapable of providing for a child, a guardianship may be necessary. A guardian has the ability to make medical, educational and financial decisions for a child. Unlike an adoption, though, which severs biological parents' parental rights, a guardianship retains those rights.

Seeking a guardianship can pose significant challenges, though. This is particularly true if the biological parents are against a guardianship being established. Negative animosity amongst the parties can put the child in a difficult position and may, depending on the circumstances, not be in his or her best interests. However, the fact that arguments may arise should not deter an individual from seeking guardianship when it truly is in the child's best interests.

In these instances, guardianships can be aggressively challenged. The same holds true when a biological parent tries to dissolve a guardianship. With so much at stake, including a child's safety and well-being, it is critical that those considering guardianship, or contemplating trying to dissolve one, carefully prepare their legal filings and develop their arguments. After all, in many instances a judge will make a potentially long-lasting decision based merely on the arguments made in court.

Source: FindLaw, "FAQ on Guardianship of Minor Children," accessed on Oct. 21, 2016

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