What are the requirements to file for Guardianship of a minor child in Florida?

Full Question:

How do you get guardianship of a minor child in Florida when both parents are alive and want me to become guardian of a minor child? Will I have to hire a lawyer or can I file the papers myself and how do I get the forms?
05/05/2009   |   Category: Guardianship   |   State: Florida   |   #16576

Answer:

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. Guardianships of
minors are often established when neither parent is able to provide a
safe, secure home for the child because of drug abuse, alcoholism, and
other serious personal problems or when a minor child inherits property
worth more than a certain amount of money.

To become a guardian of a minor, either the party intending to be the
guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official
responsible for a minor's welfare must file a petition in the state
court where the ward lives to appoint the guardian. The guardianship
petition usually names the potential guardian and provides information
about the parties' relationship (if any) and any pertinent information
about the heirs or estate of the ward, as well as information about the
minor's parents and whether and where they are living. Notice of the
time and place of the guardianship hearing must be given to the
potential ward and other interested parties. In appointing a guardian
over a minor, the court will consider which individual's appointment
will be in the best interest of the minor. Preferred guardians for a
minor are parents and then other relatives. However, the primary
consideration in selecting a guardian is the best interests of the
minor. If the parents are still alive, before a nonparent is chosen as a
guardian, the parents must be determined to be unable or unfit to look
after the best interests of the minor. In some states, if the child is a
certain age or older, the court must appoint the person nominated by the
child unless the court finds the nomination contrary to the child’s best
interest. The court may not appoint a person against whom the child has
filed a written objection. 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. If the court finds sufficient evidence to
order the guardianship after a hearing is held, it may issue subsequent
orders, which govern the relationship and the guardian's actions.

The relationship between a guardian and a ward is fiduciary, which means
that the guardian is obliged to act in the best interests of the ward.
The court supervises the guardian to assure proper actions on behalf of
the ward. Guardians may be required to make accountings of expenses to
the court on a periodic basis. In some courts, a guardian may be
reimbursed for attorney fees related to the guardianship.

In Florida, a guardian must be represented by an attorney who will serve
as the “attorney of record,” and the court will likely also appoint an
attorney to represent the person alleged to be incapacitated. For
specific information and statutes regarding guardianships in Florida,
please see:

http://www.flprobate.com/guardian_questions.htm

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&U
RL=Ch0744/titl0744.htm&StatuteYear=2007&Title=%2D%3E2007%2D%3EChapter%20
744

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