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Lawyers for Child Guardianship on Long Island

Nassau County Attorneys for Guardianship in Family Law Cases

The state defines a child as someone under the age of 18 who is not married and not in the military. Children must have a guardian until they are 18 years of age, get married, or die. Legal guardians assume the duties and responsibilities that a parent otherwise would have. Situations where a guardian may be needed include the death or severe illness of the parent(s), deportation of a parent where the child remains in the country, if a court orders the child’s removal for safety concerns, and others. Guardianship is considered the most significant power that a court can afford to a non-parent of a child except for adoption. These matters may be conducted in family court, county court, or surrogates court, based on circumstances, authority, or local jurisdiction.

Guardianship Procedure in New York

The judge and the courts as a whole maintain an overall commitment in such matters to act in accordance with what is in the child’s best interest. Cases of guardianship may be initiated by submission of a "petition for appointment of guardian" in the county of residence that includes:

  • Relevant contact information of the petitioner
  • The names and contact information of birth parent(s)
  • Whether the parent(s) consent to the guardianship
  • Information regarding current foster parents or responsible social services agency
  • Acknowledgements that the petitioner or members of his or her household have not been the subject of restraining orders, child abuse, etc.

When the judge formally makes a guardianship appointment, it is done through a court order known as "letters of guardianship." Generally, for the guardianship to be finalized, consent must be given by the parents or other authorized agency. Courts may consider a child’s preferences in these matters, particularly if he or she is over 14 years of age, but ultimately it is the decision of the judge. Some parents may name a legal guardian in their will, which may be associated with their overall estate plan. A standby guardian may also be formally named in the event that a parent becomes incapacitated and unable to care for the child.

Guardians Ad Litem (GAL) in New York Family Law

In situations where a child or "special needs" adult needs assistance in court-related matters, a GAL may be appointed to consider the rights and interests of the child in the case. A GAL does not have responsibility for the individual beyond the scope of the court case. GALs are considered representatives of the court and may make recommendations and work in conjunction with a Long Island family law attorney.

Requirements for Being a Guardian

Any individual over 18 years of age and either a lawful resident or citizen of the U.S. may apply for guardianship. Those with a criminal record may be excluded from consideration, based on the nature and severity of the crimes. Generally, the court will seek guardians who are of reasonably good health. The judge is the final decision maker in these matters.

Adoption

An adoption of a child is possible in cases where a parent has waived parental rights, had parental rights terminated by the courts, or the parent(s) have died. Often relatives will petition the court in efforts to adopt. Adoption is permanent in nature and affords the adopting parent all duties and responsibilities of parenthood. Adoptive parents will be subjected to extensive criminal background screening, a medical questionnaire or exam, and a review of their home to qualify.

At the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC, we have over 20 years of experience representing clients in divorce, child custody, domestic violence, adoption, paternity, and other areas of New York family law. For a complimentary consultation and evaluation of your case, contact the office today at (516) 227-5353.

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