GUARDIANSHIPS

 

What is a Guardianship of a Minor?

When one or both parents of a child are temporarily unable to care for them, another adult can be appointed as a Guardian. Guardianship does not terminate a parent’s rights forever. It is a legal process of allowing a family member or another person to take care and custody of a child. That person can legally act as a parent on behalf of a child. A permanent guardianship lasts until the child is eighteen OR until one of the parents is determined by the court to be fit to resume care of the child.

 

When would a parent be considered unfit or unable to care for their child?

A parent may be considered unfit or unable to care for a child for many reasons including abuse or neglect, substance abuse and mental illness. Guardianship is often used as an alternative to having the Department of Children and Families (DCF) take custody of the child(ren).

 

I want to seek Guardianship of a child. What can I do?

An individual can file a petition for Guardianship and ask the court to appoint them as guardian for the child.

 

My child is the subject of a Guardianship and I want them back. What do I do?

A parent can request that the Court remove the Guardian and that the child be returned. The parent must show that the circumstances which lead to the Guardianship have changed. The Court will evaluate the fitness of the parent. It is the parent’s responsibility to show that they are stable, appropriate and fit to meet the child’s needs.

 

What can Attorney Ellis do for me in a Guardianship case?

Attorney Ellis can represent either the parent or the proposed guardian. If a guardianship is in effect, Attorney Ellis can represent either the parent seeking to have their child returned to them or the guardian who wishes to remain in that role. Attorney Ellis will explain to you in depth what your legal options are and how they apply to your case. Attorney Ellis will help you make important decisions about the case and navigate the often confusing and frustrating legal process. She will assist you in obtaining the best result possible for your particular situation. Whether at a Motion Hearing on a particular issue or at a full Trial on all the issues, Attorney Ellis will attempt to negotiate an agreement that works for you and serves the best interests of your family. If an agreement cannot be reached she will zealously argue your position in front of the Judge so a decision can be made. She will be available to answer all of your questions and concerns. She will deal with the other party or the other party’s attorney throughout the court process so you don’t have to.

 

How much will a Guardianship cost me?

Attorney Ellis offers free consults where she will discuss your particular case and what it will cost. But generally Attorney Ellis will require a “retainer” to start the case. A retainer is a lump sum of money determined on a case by case basis. The retainer is held in a special client funds bank account. Funds are billed from the retainer for work that is completed on your case on a monthly basis. If the case is not completed before the retainer is exhausted, a second retainer is needed. Any money in the retainer that is not used at the completion of the case is returned to the client. The hourly rate and amount for the retainer will depend on the particular issues in the case but also depends on the number of contested issues, the complexity of issues, the contentiousness of the parties and other factors. During a free consultation, Attorney Ellis will assess your case and discuss the retainer needed to start work on the case.

 

What if I cannot afford a large retainer but I still need help?

In certain circumstances Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) is available. LAR is a new initiative in Probate in Family Court which allows a party to hire an attorney on a limited basis to help with a part or parts of a case. The attorney and party negotiate what part or parts of a case the party needs help with and what the cost will be. The attorney handles the part(s) the client wants them to and the client handles the rest. Often times a flat rate can be used for each part. The rate will depend on the particular issues in the case but also depends on the number of contested issues, the complexity of issues, the contentiousness of the parties and the attorney’s responsibilities. During a free consultation, Attorney Ellis will assess your case and discuss whether LAR would be available for you. For more information on LAR (click here)