Legal guardianship is a subject that all parents should consider. Naturally, this is not an easy topic to discuss and many parents would prefer not to address it but think about it as a way of keeping children happy, secure, and stable should the unthinkable happen.
Guardianship vs Custody
- Guardianship is established to someone other than a biological parent. Legal guardianship is appointed by a court and can also be granted custody. A guardian of a child will make decisions concerning the protection, medical treatment, schooling, and all day to day choices about the child.
- Custody is typically used in relation to a parent’s care for his or her own child. Think of divorce.
Becoming a special guardianship – Who can apply?
You can apply to be a child’s special guardianship if you’re over 18 and if you’re not their parent.
You can also make a joint guardianship claim. You and anyone you’re applying with can apply if:
- ”you’re already the child’s legal guardian
- the child lives with you because of a child arrangements order
- the child has lived with you for 3 of the past 5 years
- you’re the child’s relative or a foster parent, and the child has been living with you for at least 1 year
- you have the agreement of anyone named in a child arrangements order as someone who the child will live with
- you have the agreement of all the people with parental responsibility for the child
- you have the agreement of the local council if the child is in care” – Gov.UK
If you do not meet one of these descriptions, you’ll need the permission of the court to apply. You’ll need to fill in the below forms and send them to your local family court:
- ‘Make an application in existing court proceedings relating to children’ (form C2)
- ‘Family mediation and assessment meeting’ (form FM1)
Child custody law is the legal mechanism to determine which parent will be primarily responsible for the child in case of divorce or separations. In the UK often both parents maintain joint custody of the child. This means that the child will spend 50% of their time with one parent and the other half with the other. However, there might be at times a third party filing for custody against the parents, like a guardian or a grandparent. Parents who have legal custody have the right to decide on behalf of the child on matters like education, upbringing, and medical care.
Parents spend most of their lives trying to protect their children. Appointing a legal guardian could be a way of providing your children with some legal protection. It’s important that you consider your options carefully. Don’t leave your loved ones potentially arguing over what is in the child’s best interests. This could end up in court with a judge making the decision for you.
It’s important to plan for the unexpected, especially when it comes to those we love the most. You should also read: ‘Does Your Family Know Who Handles Your Legal Matters?’
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