Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
Temporary Guardianship in the United States is a position of guardianship awarded to individuals who are not a child’s official legal guardians or custodial parents.
In most cases, Temporary Guardianship is awarded because the parents or current legal guardians of a minor are not, for whatever reason, able to take care of the child. Usually, this is not seen as a long-term arrangement, hence the temporary nature of the guardianship.
Obtaining Temporary Guardianship (see also ‘What Is A Ward Of The State And What Does It Involve?‘) over a child involves a slightly different process depending on which state you’re in.
What is fairly consistent across all U.S. states is that Temporary Guardianship is almost always established by going through the courts, and the same goes for terminating the arrangement.
With that being said, there are specific circumstances where Temporary Guardianship may be terminated without court proceedings.
If you are involved in a legal Temporary Guardianship arrangement and are seeking a termination, read on to find out how to achieve this without involving the court.
What Is Temporary Guardianship?
The specific laws surrounding the concept of Temporary Guardianship differ slightly from state to state. Therefore, it’s important to do your due diligence and research the legislation in your state so that you can fully understand how it works.
However, in basic terms, Temporary Guardianship is a legal arrangement under which a child is formally turned over to the care of an adult or adults other than their current legal guardians for a temporary period of time.
During this time, the temporary guardians are considered the legal guardians of the child in addition to the parents or existing legal guardians, albeit not on a permanent basis.
This means that the temporary guardians are qualified to act in loco parentis for the child, for all intents and purposes. That includes making emergency medical decisions for the child while the child is in their care, as well as financial, educational, and other important decisions.
Reasons For Temporary Guardianship
The most common reason why Temporary Guardianship is awarded to someone who is not a child’s parent or permanent guardian is that the minor’s current guardians are unable to care for the child in the short term.
If one parent has passed away, for example, and the other parent feels unable to fulfill parental duties immediately following the death, Temporary Guardianship may be awarded to someone else until the parent can resume their parenting role.
More common than parental death when it comes to reasons for awarding Temporary Guardianship is financial hardship. If a child’s parents cannot, for a certain length of time, afford to provide for said child, they may grant guardianship temporarily to another trusted adult.
Incarceration is another major reason for Temporary Guardianship. With one or both of a child’s parents being unable to see or provide for them during their prison stay, it makes sense to transfer parental responsibility to another trusted adult temporarily in this situation.
In a household where a child has suffered abuse from both parents, Temporary Guardianship may be awarded to other family members, such as grandparents. However, where it has been found that one of a child’s parents are abusive,
Temporary Guardianship may be awarded to one parent over the other until an official custody hearing can take place. In this case, the guardianship arrangement may be referred to as Temporary Custody.
While we are on the subject of custody agreements and arrangements, disagreements over the logistics of parenting are a significant catalyst for Temporary Guardianship. If parents live separately, for example, but cannot agree on living arrangements, Temporary Custody is a viable solution.
How is Temporary Guardianship Awarded
Obtaining Temporary Guardianship of a child, or giving another person legal guardianship of your child on a temporary basis, is not a process to be undertaken lightly. For this reason, awarding Temporary Guardianship often involves going through the court system, unless the decision is mutual and amicable.
Most U.S. states require the child’s current legal guardian and the prospective temporary guardian(s) to complete what is known as a Temporary Guardianship Agreement Form.
A Temporary Guardianship Agreement Form is a legal document outlining the arrangement between the parents/guardians and temporary guardians of any children involved.
To fill out the form, you will need the full names and dates of birth of all children of whom Temporary Guardianship is being awarded. You will also need to provide the full names of the custodial parents and the full names and contact details of the temporary guardians, as well as their relationship to the child(ren).
Crucially, you will need to state the date of commencement of the Temporary Guardianship as well as the end date. This form then needs to be signed by, and in the process of, an official notary.
Assuming that both the current legal guardians and the new temporary guardians of the child in question are in full agreement concerning the arrangement, you may not need to do anything else.
Sometimes, depending on your state of residence, you might need to file the form with your state, county, or city. However, in many states, as long as all parties are in agreement, you can simply keep a notarized copy of the document on file.
Where things become more complicated is where at least one party does not willingly consent to Temporary Guardianship being awarded.
In this case, obtaining Temporary Guardianship often involves the prospective temporary guardian(s) petitioning the court for Temporary Guardianship.
The adult(s) who wish to obtain Temporary Guardianship of a child will, with the help of an attorney, need to convince the court that awarding them Temporary Guardianship is in the minor’s best interests.
Standard Process For Terminating Temporary Guardianship
The standard process for terminating Temporary Guardianship involves going through the courts and explaining to a judge why the Temporary Guardianship agreement is no longer necessary.
It may seem odd that most people will need to go to court to terminate a Temporary Guardianship agreement when the same agreement can often be obtained without court proceedings. However, there are good reasons for this.
For one thing, Temporary Guardianship should primarily be awarded in the best interests of the child or children involved. This means that terminating the agreement before the arranged date (specified on the Temporary Guardianship Agreement Form) is a serious decision that should not be rushed into without legal counsel.
After all, the termination of Temporary Guardianship, just like the awarding of it, is a legally complex matter that impacts parental rights.
The next reason why terminating Temporary Guardianship is best done with the help of the court is that both the parents and temporary guardians will have notarized legal documents in their possession stating the end date of the arrangement.
Until the specified date, therefore, the named temporary guardians have a legally-enforceable responsibility and rights over the children named in the document.
This can easily cause problems if not everybody is on the same page about terminating the agreement, which is why it’s more prudent to dismantle the agreement legally from within the court.
Terminating Temporary Guardianship Without Court
With all of that being said, there are circumstances under which a Temporary Guardianship agreement can be terminated without going to court.
Bear in mind that this option is not viable if the Temporary Guardianship agreement has been put in place following legal proceedings such as a CPS investigation.
In this case, the Temporary Guardianship will be considered to have been put in place to protect the child, and termination will only be achieved by presenting proof of the lack of necessity for the agreement in court.
Assuming that both the parents of the child and the temporary guardians have mutually agreed to terminate the agreement, and there are no relevant legal proceedings involved, it is possible to terminate Temporary Guardianship by signing a stipulation.
The stipulation confirms that all parties (including the child if they are aged over 14 in most states) agree to the termination of the arrangement. Information should also be provided concerning the reason for termination (reasons should point towards the lack of need for Temporary Guardianship at this point in time) and the custody arrangements moving forward.
All signatures must be supervised by a notary before the document is presented to a judge for review and approval.
While there are still legal formalities involved in this process of termination, it is a much quicker and less stressful method than debating Temporary Guardianship termination in a court setting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Temporary Guardianship The Same As Temporary Custody?
No, Temporary Guardianship and Temporary Custody are not the same, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Temporary Custody is usually a custody arrangement between two parents, one of whom is awarded full custody of a child on a temporary basis. Temporary Guardianship may be granted to someone who is not a parent of the child.
Who Cannot Be A Temporary Guardian?
A person cannot be named as a temporary guardian if they are deemed incapable of caring for a child. This includes anyone under the age of 18, a person who has demonstrated general incompetence in their daily life, or someone who has committed Family Offenses such as domestic violence, neglect, abuse, or exploitation.
Bankruptcy in the previous 7 years, some felony charges, and disbarring or suspension from a monetary-based, state-licensed profession also count against potential temporary guardians.
How Long Does Temporary Guardianship Last?
Temporary Guardianship usually does not last longer than 6 months. However, Temporary Guardianship may be extended through reapplication or made permanent if, after this 6-month period, the child(ren) concerned still require additional guardianship.
Temporary Guardianship is a serious legal matter that carries significant weight in terms of parental rights. Therefore, both the awarding and termination of Temporary Guardianship are often conducted through court.
However, if both the child’s parents and the temporary guardians are in mutual agreement and there are no ongoing legal or child protection investigations involved, Temporary Guardianship may be terminated before the agreed-upon date without going to court.
All parties (sometimes including the child depending on age) must sign a stipulation containing relevant information in the presence of a notary before having it reviewed by a judge in order for the agreement to be legally terminated without court proceedings.