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Permanent guardianship occurs when an adult takes legal responsibility for a minor child who is not his or her own. In order for guardianship to be considered permanent, the adult must be legally responsible for the child for a period of more than six months, and a court must order the guardianship. To establish a permanent guardianship, a petition must be filed with the court, after which a hearing is held. In order to appoint a guardian, the court must find that the guardianship is in the child's best interests.
Temporary guardianship occurs when an adult takes legal responsibility for a minor child who is not his or her own. In order for guardianship to be considered temporary, the adult must be legally responsible for the child for less than six months. Temporary guardianship may be established without filing a petition in court. A child's parent may sign a childcare power of attorney naming another adult as his or her child's temporary guardian. For example, a parent who is going on active duty in the military, or who will be stationed for a short period of time overseas, may choose to sign an agreement naming a grandparent, relative, or family friend temporary guardian of his or her child. Because a temporary guardian isn't permanently responsible for the child in his or her care and was not ordered by a court to be a guardian, doctors may refuse to treat the child and schools may refuse to admit the child to classes without a parent's consent. It is possible to appoint a temporary guardian and then have the temporary/standby guardian petition the court for appointment as permanent guardian.
The following is a portion of a Maryland statute dealing with a standby guardian's petition for appointment as guardian:
A standby guardian shall file a petition for judicial appointment within 180 days of the date of the beginning of the standby guardianship under this section.
(2) If the standby guardian fails to file the petition within the time specified in this subsection, the standby guardian's authority shall terminate 180 days from the date of the beginning of the standby guardianship.
(3) The standby guardian's authority shall begin again on the filing of the petition.
(f) Same — Determination of incapacity; debilitation or upon consent of parent; documentation. — (1) A standby guardian shall file a petition for appointment as guardian after receipt of:
(i) A copy of a determination of incapacity made under § 13-906 of this subtitle; or
(ii) Copies of:
1. A determination of debilitation made under § 13-906 of this subtitle; and
2. The parent's written consent to the beginning of the standby guardianship under this section.
(2) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, the petition shall be accompanied by:
(i) The written designation of the standby guardian signed, or consented to, by each person having parental rights over the child;
(ii) A copy of:
1. The determination of incapacity of the parent; or
2. The determination of debilitation and the parental consent to the beginning of the standby guardianship; and
(iii) If the petition is filed by a person designated as alternate standby guardian, a statement that the person designated as standby guardian is unwilling or unable to act as standby guardian, and the basis for the statement.
(3) If a person who has parental rights cannot be located after reasonable efforts have been made to locate the person, the standby guardian may file a petition under this section without the consent of the person to the designation of the standby guardian.
(4) If the standby guardian submits documentation, satisfactory to the court, of the reasonable efforts to locate the person who has parental rights, the court may appoint a standby guardian under this section.
(g) Required findings by court. — The court shall appoint a person to be a standby guardian under this section if the court finds that:
(1) The person was duly designated as standby guardian;
(2) A determination of incapacity, or a determination of debilitation and parental consent to the beginning of the standby guardianship, has been made under this section;
(3) The interests of the minor will be promoted by the appointment of a standby guardian of the person or property of the minor; and
(4) If the petition is by a person designated as alternate standby guardian, the person designated as standby guardian is unwilling or unable to act as standby guardian.
(h) Revocation by parent. — A parent may revoke a standby guardianship created under this section:
(1) Before the filing of a petition, by notifying the standby guardian verbally or in writing or by any other act that is evidence of a specific intent to revoke the standby guardianship; and
(2) If a petition has been filed by:
(i) Executing a written revocation;
(ii) Filing the revocation with the court in which the petition was filed; and
(iii) Promptly notifying the standby guardian of the revocation.
(i) Renunciation of appointment. — A person who is judicially appointed as a standby guardian under this section may at any time before the beginning of the person's authority renounce the appointment by:
(1) Executing a written renunciation;
(2) Filing the renunciation with the court that issued the decree; and
(3) Promptly notifying in writing the parent of the revocation.
The following statute deals with debilitation of a parent:
§ 13-906 EST. & TRUSTS Requirements for determination of incapacity or debilitation.
(a) In general. — (1) A determination of incapacity or debilitation under this subtitle shall:
(i) Be made by the attending physician to a reasonable degree of medical certainty;
(ii) Be in writing; and
(iii) Contain the attending physician's opinion regarding the cause and nature of the parent's incapacity or debilitation, and the extent and probable duration of the incapacity or debilitation.
(2) If a standby guardian's identity is known to an attending physician, the attending physician shall provide a copy of a determination of incapacity or debilitation to the standby guardian.
(b) Upon request of standby guardian. — If requested by a standby guardian, an attending physician shall make a determination regarding the parent's incapacity or debilitation for purposes of this subtitle.
(c) Information to be provided to parent. — If the parent is able to comprehend the information, a standby guardian shall inform the parent of:
(1) The beginning of the standby guardian's authority as a result of a determination of incapacity; and
(2) The parent's right to revoke the authority promptly after receipt of the determination of incapacity.