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Guardianship


Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]


What is a Guardian?


A guardian is a person or an agency to whom the court gives authority to take responsibility for the care of a child. It may be planned for in the future: for example, a “standby guardian” may be appointed to take responsibility for a child’s care at a future date if a parent’s illness is worsening and he or she is not expected to be able to continue caring for the child.


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Whocan file a petition for Guardianship?


An adult relative or family friend, a child-protective agency or if the infant is over the age of 14 years, the infant (child), can petition the court to be appointed as the guardian or standby guardian of a child.


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Wheredo I file a Guardianship?


The Family Court has similar jurisdiction and authority as the County and Surrogate Court regarding the guardianship of the person of a minor (a child 17 years or younger). Normally, Guardianship of the person of a minor are filed in the Family Court. The Surrogate and/or the County Court has the power over the property of an infant and is authorized and empowered to appoint a guardian of the person or of the property or of the person and property.

There are no filing fees in Family Court.


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What Happens at the Hearing?


In a Family Court guardianship hearing, the court takes testimony concerning the person seeking guardianship to determine whether it would be in the child’s best interests to allow that person to take responsibility for the child’s care. If the child is over 14 years of age, the court may consider the child’s own preference.


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Whatdo I need to bring to the Family Court to file a Guardianship petition in the Family Court?


If available, the following documentation should be brought to Court:

  • Child(ren)’s Birth Certificate
  • If the parent(s) is/are deceased, the original Death Certificate
  • If the child(ren) is over 14 years of age and unable to come to court, Form 6-3, “Preference of a Minor over 14 years of age”. This form should be signed and notarized.
  • If the parents are alive and unable to come to court, Form 6-4 Waiver of Process, Renunciation or Consent to Guardianship should be completed by the parent(s). This form should be signed and notarized.
  • Proposed Guardian should also bring proof of identification, preferably a picture ID, and proof of residence.

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