Sometimes unexpected events lead to a non-parent taking custody of a child. One of the most common scenarios is when a grandparent takes custody of a child when a parent is not available or deceases. In order to obtain legal rights over the child a petition to establish guardianship must be filed. This petition is not filed in Family Court, but actually Probate Court.
A guardianship proceeding can be contested or uncontested. If a parent consents to the guardianship proceeding then they simply can sign a waiver to participate in the proceedings. However, if the matter is contested and there is evidence and testimony presented then the best interest of the child is considered when the Court makes the order.
Additionally, during the guardianship process there is an investigation into the backgrounds of the petitioning party. The criminal background, work history, household information are all considered when the investigator completed the report to the Court as to whether the investigator recommends the potential guardianship petition should be approved.
Frequently asked questions regarding guardianship:
Is there a filing fee to file a guardianship petition?
Yes, normally there is a filing fee of $435.00.
Is there a filing fee for the guardianship investigation?
Yes, there is a filing fee between $400-$800 depending on whether it is a full investigation or a truncated investigation.
How long does the guardianship process take?
Approximately 3 to 6 months.
Are there hearing dates set?
Yes. There is usually at least one hearing date set for the Court to make a ruling on the petition.
What are probate examiner notes?
Probate examiner notes are generated in all cases. A clerk known as a probate examiner reviews all filed documents in every petition for completeness and accuracy prior to the date of the hearing. If there are any issues with the paperwork the examiner notes will detail those issues prior to the date of the hearing.