Minor Child Legal Guardianship & Legal Rights of Parents

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Legal guardianship of a minor child is normally established by a probate court. Through a court order a person other than the child’s parents is given the right to care for the child until the term of guardianship is terminated. Guardianship is granted when a court finds that the legal parents of a child are not in a position to properly care for the child. This transfer of responsibility does not permanently severe the rights of the birth parents.

1 Right to Visit

Parents with children under legal guardianship have the right to visit their children. Visitation is a legal right that may be supervised or unsupervised depending on what the judge finds to be suitable. Supervised and unsupervised visitation is granted on the basis of the best interest of the child. The court or the guardian may also decide how often and at what time the parent may visit, especially in supervised visitation.

2 Right to Regain Custody

Parents have a right to regain custody of their children during guardianship. A parent can apply to revoke a guardianship even though the term of the guardianship has not come to an end. This right is accorded by the court if the judge deems that regaining custody is in the best interest of the child. Factors that may be considered are whether there is substantial improvement in health, behavior, family situation such as income and employment.

3 Right to Decision Making

Parents with children under guardianship have the right to make important decisions concerning their children. This, however, depends on whether the parent has the proper mental capacity to do so. In this case, the probate court may limit or terminate the parent’s rights to decide about his child’s life. But in the right mental state the parent can contribute to such important decisions as medical care, change of names, education or travel to another country.

4 Right to Trial

Parents who are facing the prospect of having their child put under guardianship have the right to challenge this. If a parent does not want her child put under guardianship, she can contest the petition filed by the potential guardian. She also has a right to an appointed lawyer by the court if the parent cannot afford legal counsel.

Jayden Mathews started writing professionally in 2006. His work has appeared in TECHNO, an e-mail magazine, among other publications. Mathews holds a master's degree in international journalism from the University of Westminster in London.