Legal Guardianship in Georgia
There are several situations where you might want to consider the responsibilities of a legal guardian. This can arise from a variety of reasons and you need to know what will – or won’t – be your duties or rights in the event that you become a guardian in the state of Georgia. Because there are various types of guardianships that arise in different circumstances, let’s take a few of the most common types one at a time. We’re always happy to give you specific answers to your own situation as well, so please feel free to ask us.
Typically a guardian may be legally responsible for the safety, shelter, education, nurturing, financial management, or medical care of another person.
Becoming the guardian of a minor child is one common form of guardianship that allows you legally to take part in the life of the child. A guardianship is not the same as an adoption. Unlike an adoption which terminates the legal rights of the birth parents so that the adoptive parent(s) have full rights and obligations – – a guardianship does not end the legal parental relationship between a child and his/her biological parents. Instead a guardianship provides an additional legal relationship between the guardian and the child.
A child’s guardian may have one unique responsibility which could occur if a minor child inherits a gift from someone’s will. In this instance the courts may approve a guardianship to manage the gift or assets until the child is of legal age (18 years old) to manage his own finances. A biological parent may be named a legal guardian in this case.
On one hand, becoming a child’s guardian can facilitate your right to influence the child’s medical care and medical decisions, manage the child’s finances, guide the quality of life, or direct his educational choices. But on the other hand, becoming a legal guardian is a request that can trigger resentment or resistance from a biological parent. If a guardian is appointed, the biological parent may not owe any further financial support.
At the other end of the life continuum, a guardianship may become desirable for someone who is incapacitated or elderly. If the adult ward is not able to communicate his/her responsible decisions regarding needs or safety, a more encompassing alternative to guardianship is a conservatorship. There are typically medical, financial, or safety concerns that necessitate an adult guardianship and there are guardianship obligations that accompany this decision. The legal definitions of guardianship law are specific and can be found in the link in this sentence. A guardian for the elderly may have access to additional resources to help with the financial and medical decisions that become necessary for the adult’s safety and wellbeing.
In the event that a minor child or an elderly or incapacitated adult is unable to represent themselves in court, a special type of guardianship may be appointed. This is called Ad Litem guardianship. An Ad Litem guardian will represent the ward in court proceedings. An Ad Litem guardian may be a close relative or a responsible party such as an attorney, and this type of guardianship is common during divorce hearings or when settling estates.
We encourage you to do a couple of things. Please check out our link above to find the exact definitions of guardianship law in Georgia … and then let us know how we can help you with your own questions about possible guardianships for your needs.