Guardianship of Minors in Massachusetts: The legal process of becoming a guardian of a minor grants the guardian the power to look after and make choices for the child. Legal guardians for children are typically the child's parents. A minor kid under the age of 18 may also have a legal guardian appointed by the Probate and Family Court.
All choices about the care and custody of a child must be made by the kid’s legal guardian. This involves choosing the child’s residence, place of education, and healthcare facility.
In a guardianship situation, the child may occasionally be referred to as the ward.
A “pro se” (pronounced “pro say”) party is someone who represents themselves in court without a counsel.
Who are eligible to Be a Minor’s (Child’s) Guardian? (Guardianship of Minors in Massachusetts)
A minor must be fourteen years old or older to request a guardian, and any adult is eligible to do so. A guardianship case, also known as a petition for the appointment of guardian of a minor, must be filed in the Probate and Family Court in order to request that the court name a guardian for a child. (This chapter goes on to cover where and how to file petitions.)
The appointment of a guardian may be requested by more than one individual. If there are multiple petitioners, they are referred to as “petitioners” or “co-petitioners.”
When a parent is deemed “unfit,” it signifies that they are unable to fulfil their parental responsibilities. This covers circumstances in which a parent has given up on a child and handed them over to your care. Similar to this, there are times when a parent’s personal issues render him or her unable to provide for and raise the child.
How to file a guardianship for Minors:-
Find out if you can become a carer for a minor, which is a far easier process, before you start the guardianship process.
You must submit the following paperwork if you want to apply to be a minor’s guardian:
- Request for the Appointment of a Minor’s Guardian (MPC 141)
- Bond (MPC 801) Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody (OCAJ-1)
- either an affidavit or a petition
- If the parent(s) consent to the guardian’s appointment, a Notarized Waiver and Consent to Petition (MPC 440) must be signed.
- In the event that the parents and other interested parties object to the guardian’s appointment, a Notice of Appearance (and Objection) (MPC 505a) must be filed.
Steps to Take After Applying for Minor’s Guardianship
- Giving notice
The court will send or issue you a Notice and Order once the forms have been filed. This document outlines the date and parties who must get notice of your court hearing. You must notify the interested parties by sending copies of the petition, order, and notice to each of the following:
The parents of the kid. the child’s closest relatives over the age of 18 if both parents have passed away. However, if a parent’s rights have been terminated, you are not required to provide them notice.
- Show up to the hearing
You must appear at the hearing that will be held in relation to the Notice and Order.
The underage child has the right to be represented by an attorney. The court may be asked to appoint a counsel for the minor, or for someone acting on their behalf. If a minor or someone acting on their behalf requests legal representation, a lawyer must be appointed by the court. The court can require that the state pay the minor’s lawyer if they are unable to afford one.
You have the right to legal representation if you’re the parent of the minor child at issue in the guardianship of a minor case. If you request legal representation but are unable to pay for one and can demonstrate your indigence, a lawyer will be assigned to you. If you need an attorney, contact the court where your case will be heard right away in person or by mail to make your request.
- The court will decide at this hearing whether or not:
- The candidate for the position is qualified.
- The proper court is handling the case
- The necessary notices have been delivered.
- The fundamental requirements for a meeting have been satisfied.
What is the Massachusetts Guardianship Filing Location?
The Family and Probate Court of the Massachusetts County where the minor resides must receive a petition for Massachusetts Guardianship.
The kid must typically have been a resident of the state for six months before the court can hear a petition for Massachusetts Guardianships. In the event that the minor resides outside of Massachusetts, the petition for Massachusetts Guardianships must be submitted in the nation or state of residence.
When Does a Guardianship in Massachusetts End?
Massachusetts guardianships normally come to an end when the child turns 18 years old, when they are adopted, when they get married, or when a judge decides that they are no longer required.
MA guardianships may also step down with the Court’s approval. Additionally, state courts have the authority to revoke the MA guardianship at another party’s request or on their own initiative.
GETTING OR REMOVING A TEMPORARY GUARDIAN
After the guardianship case is filed in court, the Judge may issue an order for interim guardianship. You must submit a motion form for temporary guardianship in order to secure an order for temporary guardianship.
Parents who disagree to a temporary guardianship order may submit a motion to have the guardian named by the court removed.
All motions must be filed in court together with a proposed order that outlines what you want the judge to rule on. This brochure contains sample motions and suggested ordering. You can request a hearing date from the court when you file the motion and proposed order.
You must provide advance written notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing, as well as copies of any motions and other documents you file with the court, to the parents, the child, if they are fourteen (14) years old or older, anyone who has a custody order for the child, and anyone who lives with the child.
The motion, proposed order, and accompanying papers must be mailed at least 10 days before the hearing if you choose to “serve” them by mail. 7 days notice is sufficient if you hand-deliver the motion before 4:OO p.m. (instead of mailing it).
The judge will typically not hear the motion if copies of the notice of a hearing or both are not properly served.
What Distinguishes a Permanent Guardianship from a Temporary Guardianship?
A temporary order of guardianship and a permanent order (or “decree” of guardianship) are the two types of guardianship orders. In most cases, a temporary guardianship expires after three months unless the court issues a new directive. Unless the court issues a new order, a permanent guardianship lasts until the kid becomes eighteen.
If a parent or child who is fourteen years old or older objects to the petition for guardianship, the court cannot impose a permanent guardianship until a trial or “evidentiary hearing.” Before an evidentiary hearing is arranged to decide whether a permanent guardianship order is required, it typically takes several months.
How Much Does a Massachusetts Guardianship Petition Cost?
There are no filing costs associated with an MA Guardianship petition. According to MA Guardianships, the petitioner must cover the cost of notifying the birth parents and any interested parties.
Additionally, a bond with sureties must be filed with a $50 filing fee for MA Guardianships. A bond with sureties is often not required by the Massachusetts state court. Those who are considering becoming Massachusetts guardians but are unable to pay the costs might ask the court to waive them.