What form is needed for me to act as my step son's guardian at appropriate time?
03/15/2009 - Category:Divorce - Child Custody - State: MO #15633
My wife and I were married in March 2003. She has a son Tyler (age 14 in July) who's biological father had his parental rights terminated when Tyler was a toddler due to abuse issues, for which he went to prison; he is no longer in the picture in any way. My wife and I have been together as a couple since 2001. Although we are married, our question is what legal avenues we need to pursue to ensure that through high school I am able to act as Tyler's guardian/parent (for instance, hospital admissions, sports permission slips, etc.). We thought perhaps 'guardianship', as adoption really doesn't seem necessary nor appropriate at his age. Suggestions?
A stepparent's rights to access a child's records vary by school district. In some cases, the stepparent is required to have permission from the biological parent, or a power of attorney from the biological parent in order to access records. Often, a power of attorney for school records is sufficient, but specific requirements vary by entity. I suggest speaking to the school administration regarding applicable requirements.
A guardianship is a legal relationship that can be created when a person is assigned by the court to take care of and make personal decisions for another (ward). Guardianship of a minor can be over the actual minor, the property of the minor, or both. The guardianship of a minor remains under court supervision until the child reaches the age of majority. A guardianship restricts the individual's right to contract, marry, spend money, make decisions about their own care, or create a new will. The guardian may make personal decisions for the ward such as living arrangements, education, social activities, and authorization or withholding of medical or other professional care, treatment, or advice. Generally, a guardian is not charged with managing the income or property of the incapacitated person; however, the guardian may receive funds payable for the support of the ward such as social security as a representative payee. Even if a minor child lives with one or both parents, in some states a guardianship is required if the child inherits property worth more than a certain amount. After the court appoints a guardian, an inventory and appraisal must be filed, and annual or bi-annual accountings must also be filed with the court until the child reaches age eighteen. If a guardianship is contested, the court may appoint a disinterested third party to investigate and make recommendations. Usually called a guardian ad litem, this person evaluates both the necessity for a guardianship, and the appropriateness of the proposed guardian. The ward may also hire separate legal counsel. If the proposed ward is indigent, the court sometimes appoints counsel.
The following is a MO statute:
453.400. Stepparent required to support stepchild — recovery from natural or adoptive parent, when — stepparent's income considered in aid to dependent children. —
1. A stepparent shall support his or her stepchild to the same extent that a natural or adoptive parent is required to support his or her child so long as the stepchild is living in the same home as the stepparent. However, nothing in this section shall be construed as abrogating or in any way diminishing the duty a parent otherwise would have to provide child support, and no court shall consider the income of a stepparent, or the amount actually provided for a stepchild by a stepparent, in determining the amount of child support to be paid by a natural or adoptive parent.
2. A natural or adoptive parent shall be liable to a stepparent for the sum of money expended by a stepparent for the support of a stepchild when that sum of money was expended because of the neglect or refusal of[fn*] the natural or adoptive parent to pay any part of or all of the court-ordered amount of support.
3. This section shall not abrogate or diminish the common law right which a stepparent may possess to recover from a natural or adoptive parent the expense of providing necessaries for a stepchild in the absence of a court order for child support determining the amount of support to be paid by a natural or adoptive parent.
4. This section shall not be construed as granting to a stepparent any right to the care and custody of a stepchild or as granting a stepchild any right to inherit from a stepparent under the general statutory laws governing descent and distribution.
5. This section shall apply without regard to whether public assistance is being provided on behalf of the stepchild or stepchildren in question.
6. This section shall be construed to apply only to support obligations incurred on or after July 1, 1977, notwithstanding that a marriage giving rise to the support obligation occurred prior to July 1, 1977.
7. With respect to section 208.040, RSMo, this section shall not be construed to render a child ineligible for public assistance on the basis of the child's not being deprived of parental support, but it shall be construed to permit the inclusion of the income of a stepparent in the determination of eligibility for benefits and in the determination of the amount of the assistance payment.
8. In the determination of eligibility for benefits and in the determination of the amount of the assistance payment under section 208.150, RSMo, that portion of the stepparent's income, as defined by the division of family services in the administration of aid to families with dependent children, shall be considered.
[fn*] Word "or" appears in original rolls.
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03/15/2009 - Category: Child Custody - State: MO #15633
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