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Guardianship & Non-Parental Custody

Guardianship & Non-Parental Custody

Someone other than a child’s legal parent can establish legal decision-making authority or physical custody of the child. There are four (4) prerequisites which must be established for a non-parent to obtain legal custody. This is common for a grandparent or stepparent. In order for a non-parent to obtain guardianship there has to be consent from both parents.

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Establishing legal control over another’s child commonly takes place in the form of either guardianship or non-parental custody. While both may also be appointed for adults deemed unfit to care for themselves, Simon Law Group of AZ will focus on guardianship and non-parental custody as they pertain to family law in Phoenix, AZ- that is, where children and minors are involved.

Guardianship: What, Who, How and Why

A legal guardianship in Arizona refers to the Court’s awarding of the sole care and responsibility of personal decisions for a child or minor to an individual or individuals. Once appointed, the individual(s) become “wards.” This is commonly a stepparent or an elderly relative seeking additional Grandparents’ rights in Arizona.

Children and minors under the age of 14 will be appointed a ward that the Court decides is in the best interest of the child, while those over the age of 14 can choose to nominate their own guardian. Any individual (or entity, in some cases) may serve as a guardian; however they must be approved by the Court following a background check that examines issues such as criminal history and the nature of previous or existing legal guardianships in Arizona.

There are two different ways one can be awarded a guardianship. First, an individual may be selected via a will; second, they may be nominated and petitioned through the Court by a person interested in the minor’s well-being (or by the minor themselves if they are over 14). In either case, the minor’s parents must consent in writing to a person being appointed guardian. If there is concern the guardianship may be contested, the other option for gaining authority of the child or minor is non-parental custody.

Non-Parental Custody: Reasons and Conditions

In order for a non-parental custody to be considered in Arizona, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

  • one of the legal parents must have either died or gone missing for more than three months

  • the legal parents are either legally separated or separating, divorced or going through the divorce process, or annulling the marriage

Additionally, the non-parent must prove to the Court that they stand “in loco parentis.” This means they have taken on duties such as non-emergency, essential decision-making such as the provision of healthcare or education decisions. They must also provide evidence that there is a positive existing relationship that is similar to parent-child. Furthermore, since Arizona law always considers the best interest of the child, remaining with the parents is presumed ideal. Because of this, the Court must be convinced that giving custody to the non-parent is ideal for the child or minor on a profound level (i.e. they suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of their legal parents).

To discuss matters of non-parental custody or legal guardianship in Arizona, Contact Our Firm to immediately receive an email from the widely respected Phoenix law firm, Simon Law Group of AZ. Or call 480-745-2450 to book a free initial consultation with a passionate and aggressive family attorney in Phoenix today.

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