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What is guardianship and how can I acquire it over my grandchild?

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Not everyone is fit to be a parent. Unfortunately, though, sometimes individuals who do not possess the qualities and skills needed for parenthood wind up with children of their own. This can be a less than favorable situation for a child. For this reason, Arizona courts recognize grandparents' rights, which extend to visitation, custody and guardianship. By taking the appropriate legal action, Arizonan grandparents can fight for what they believe is right for their grandchildren.

One way to do this is to seek guardianship of a grandchild. A grandparent may seek guardianship when the child's parent's parental rights have been terminated, the child's parents are deceased, or guardianship is in the best interests of the child. In order to obtain guardianship, several documents must be filed with the court. These include affidavits and information sheets that provide the court with more information about you and your grandchildren. A hearing will likely be scheduled where a judge will make a final determination about what is best for the child or children in question.

It is important to know that guardianship gives you all the powers a parent would have. This means you are responsible for the child's education, healthcare, religious upbringing, social activities, and provide everyday necessities like food, clothing and shelter. However, a guardian is not required to dip into his or her own funds to cover these matters.

Whether to file for guardianship is a big decision. If granted, guardianship can only terminate upon the minor's marriage, death, or the child turns 18 or a court order relieves you of the duty. Therefore, there is a lot to consider before filing, and submitting the proper paperwork does not guarantee that guardianship will be granted. Many times, such petitions are challenged. Therefore, if you find yourself in one of these matters, you should consider discussing it with a Tucson family law attorney who knows how to fight for grandparents' rights.

Source: Arizona Judicial Branch, "Filing for Minor Guardianship," accessed on Jan. 2, 2015

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