Guardianship of a Minor Child
Many families are faced with difficult situations where a parent is not able to care for his or her child. In that situation, it is not uncommon for a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other relative to step in to care for the child until the parent is able to do so. It is important to ensure the caregiver relative has the appropriate legal documentation in place to care for the child. For example, in an informal arrangement, the caregiver may not be able to enroll the child in school or seek routine medical attention for the child.
Some caregivers will choose to petition the Court for guardianship. In Colorado, we have three types of guardianship: (1) emergency guardianship, (2) temporary guardianship, and (3) guardianship.
The Court may appoint an emergency guardian pursuant to C.R.S. 15-14-204(5) when the normal procedures for appointment of a guardian will “likely result in substantial harm to a minor's health or safety and that no other person appears to have authority to act in the circumstances, the court, on appropriate petition, may appoint an emergency guardian for the minor.” An emergency guardianship cannot last for more than sixty (60) days.
Another option is for the caregiver to file for temporary guardianship. The Court may appoint a temporary guardian pursuant to C.R.S. 15-14-204(4) “upon a showing that an immediate need exists and that the appointment would be in the best interest of the minor.” A temporary guardianship cannot last for more than six (6) months.
The final option would be to seek a full guardianship. A guardianship will last until the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age.
There are many considerations when deciding whether to petition the Court for a guardianship. It is important to remember that every situation is different and this brief explanation of guardianship is only one part of a very complex legal situation.