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Different Types of Guardianship Family Lawyers Can Help With

Updated: Jun 28, 2023


What is Legal Guardianship?


We define guardianship as having legal responsibility for someone unable to be their own legal guardian. Most people picture displaced children whose parents have suddenly passed away. However, the term doesn't refer exclusively to minors. Adults may need custody, too, in the following situations:

  • They suffer from a psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia or dementia.

  • They're an elderly adult who is no longer physically healthy enough to care for themselves.

A guardianship lawyer is the best to help with the legalities involved in this term. They can advocate for you in court as you pursue legal custody of a minor child or an incapacitated adult.


What are the Two Types of Guardianship That Family Law Can Help With?


Guardianship of a Minor


As the guardian of a minor child, you must meet the requirements to care for them. This may involve meeting financial requirements, providing a suitable home environment for the child's upbringing, and being mentally and physically well.


Your lawyer can help determine your requirements based on state laws. They will represent you in meetings involving yourself, the child, the current guardian, the judge, and other lawyers involved.


They can assist you in demonstrating good moral character and filling out the necessary paperwork and procedures.


If you're considering assuming custody of a child who is not your own, you should thoroughly understand the requirements.

  • Providing a home for the child.

  • Feeding and clothing them.

  • Paying for health and medical care.

  • Giving love and nurture.

  • Encouraging them and providing moral guidance.

  • Acting always in their best interest.

  • Paying for their education (school, college, etc.)

How many Types of Guardianship are There for Minors?


There are different types of guardianship for minors, including:

  1. Full Permanent Guardianship: This grants full legal and physical custody of the minor. It makes them responsible for the child's well-being, decision-making, and upbringing.

  2. Temporary Guardianship: This is a temporary arrangement where someone assumes responsibility for the minor for a specified period. They may grant it in emergencies or when the child's parents, family member, or guardian cannot care for it.

  3. Limited Guardianship: In this type, the guardian has specific legal authority over certain aspects of the minor's life. This includes education, healthcare, or financial matters, while the parent retains some parental rights.

  4. Testamentary Guardianship: refers to a guardian appointed by a parent in a will in case of death or incapacity. The designated person takes over the care and custody of the minor according to the parent's wishes.

  5. Joint Guardianship: This involves multiple individuals sharing the responsibilities and decision-making authority for the minor. Appointing others as joint guardians may be suitable when both parents cannot fulfill their parental duties.

Guardianship of a Compromised Adult


To become the custodian of an elderly or disabled individual, you must prove that they cannot act as their own guardian. You may have to provide witnesses and present evidence to attest to this fact. Your family lawyer will help you navigate the steps needed to become the guardian of their person, estate, or both.


How many Types of Guardianship are There for Disabled Adults


There are different types of guardianship for adults.

  1. Full Custody: This grants the guardian full legal authority and decision-making power over all aspects of the incapacitated person. This includes personal, financial decisions, and healthcare matters.

  2. Limited Custody: In this type, the custodian has legal authority over specific aspects of the disabled adult's life. At the same time, the individual retains some rights and independence. The specific areas of authority may vary based on the disability and decisions appointed by the court.

  3. Co-Guardianship: This involves selecting multiple individuals as legal guardians to share the responsibilities and authority of individuals with disabilities. This arrangement suits situations where the court determines that meeting the person's needs requires different perspectives.

  4. Temporary Custody: This is a temporary arrangement where someone assumes responsibilities for a specific period. This usually happens during a crisis or when the primary guardian is temporarily unable to fulfill their duties.

  5. Standby Guardianship: A disabled adult can appoint a guardian in advance through this arrangement. It provides a plan for future care if the individual cannot make decisions.

What is the Age Limit for Guardians?


Generally, there is no fixed age limit for being a guardian. However, most jurisdictions require a custodian to be an adult, typically 18 years or older. While uncommon, certain jurisdictions may allow 16 or 17-year-olds to become legal guardians in specific situations.


What are the Powers and Liabilities of a guardian?


The powers and liabilities of a guardian can vary based on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances. However, some common powers and liabilities of a guardian include the following:

  • Decision-Making Authority

  • Personal Care and Support

  • Financial Management

  • Legal Representation

Regardless of the type of custody granted, you must act in the best interest of your ward. This involves tending to their physical and emotional well-being, potentially managing their income, and safeguarding their financial assets.


There's a lot involved with becoming the legal custodian of a friend or loved one, and this title holds much responsibility. If you are confident you can serve as guardian, contact a family lawyer for help. Baystate Law is always happy to assist you with your guardianship cases.




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