The Dedicated Attorneys at Pennington Law Can Help Guide You Through the Process
Many types of situations may compel people to seek legal guardianships in order to provide care and protection for children or for incapacitated adults. Parents may die and leave minor children alone. Sometimes children live in unsafe households that put their welfare at risk. Adults can be afflicted by advanced age, mental illness, drug use or other infirmities or disabilities and be unable to make decisions or care for themselves.
Being appointed a guardian involves going through a court proceeding and satisfying other requirements. At Pennington Law, PLLC, with offices in the Phoenix area, our attorneys are experienced in guiding Arizonans through the process effectively. If you are concerned about a loved one being properly cared for and protected, we can help bring about a guardianship to accomplish that goal.
Understanding Guardianships in Arizona
Guardianship is the court-ordered legal authority to oversee the personal, medical, and financial affairs of another person, called the ward. The two types of guardianships in Arizona are:
- Limited or general guardianship of an incapacitated adult — Under Arizona law, an incapacitated adult is someone who is unable to manage their own affairs due to “mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication” or another cause. In limited guardianships, guardians manage some of the affairs of the ward, whereas in general guardianships, they manage all of the ward’s affairs and decisions.
- Temporary or permanent guardianship of a minor — When a person becomes the guardian of a minor, they take over the responsibilities of the parent, including making decisions regarding education, housing, financial management and other needs and activities. Guardianships of minors may be for a specific time period or until the minor is emancipated by age or another circumstance. The parents’ rights during the guardianship are suspended.
Our skilled attorneys will assist you throughout the process of establishing a guardianship, as well as your responsibilities in becoming a guardian.
What Are the Procedures and Conditions to Establish Guardianship of a Child?
Establishing guardianship starts with filing a petition with the county court. Notice of the petition must be served upon any living parent, the child (if 14 or older) and any person who has been in charge of the principal care and custody of the child for two months prior to filing. Once a court hearing is scheduled, you will need to testify to why the child needs a guardian and why you should fill that role. If the parents are living, they must agree to the guardianship. If they don’t agree, they can formally object during the guardianship proceedings. The court will assess whether a guardianship is warranted based on all the evidence and circumstances. In granting guardianships, the court looks to the best interests of the child. A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child’s interests during the proceedings.
Does a Guardian Receive Financial Benefits on the Child’s Behalf?
Even when children have guardians, their parents, if living, remain responsible for their financial support. If you’re a guardian, you can seek child support payments from parents. You may also be able to get financial benefits for the child through public assistance programs. Any money received on the child’s behalf must be used for the child’s expenses only. You’ll also be required to report to the court on how money is used, so careful records must be kept. When children have more substantial assets or income, a conservatorship may be created for management of their financial affairs.
Contact a Capable Arizona Law Firm for Help Establishing a Guardianship
At Pennington Law, PLLC, we help people in Sun City West, Surprise and throughout Arizona establish guardianships to protect their loved ones. To schedule a free consultation, call our firm at 623-208-7867 or contact us online.