How Is Guardianship Decided In TN?
23 June 2022IN: Child Custody
Children need a responsible adult in their lives to look after them physically, emotionally, and legally. While in most cases this will be the child’s parents, sometimes the parents are not able to fulfill this important role. In this case, another adult must be appointed as a guardian to ensure that a child’s needs are met, and they are properly cared for.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is the legal process of appointing an individual to legally care for and manage the affairs of a child. A guardianship may be required if the child’s parents are ill or have passed away, a parent is incarcerated, or the parents have been deemed physically or mentally incapable of caring for the child.
When the court approves a guardian, that individual will typically have physical custody and responsibility for the child’s upbringing, making important decisions regarding their physical, financial, and emotional care. When there are financial assets involved, the court may decide to appoint another financial guardian to manage the estate, although this can all be done by one person.
Depending on the type of guardianship, it will determine
- Where the child will live and go to school
- Who will be able to make important legal decisions for the child
- Who will manage the physical, emotional, and financial care for the child
A court-appointed guardian may be required to post a bond and file documents annually to ensure that the child is being appropriately cared for.
How the Court Appoints a Guardian in Tennessee
Under Tennessee Code § 34-1-102, the court’s primary focus in any matters concerning the guardianship of children is the best interests of the child. Consequently, when a guardianship is necessary, they will take great care in the appointment to ensure the needs of the child are best met by their decision.
If there is one surviving parent, that parent will usually be given priority as guardian. If not and there is a will, the court will look to the instructions for guardianship set out in the will or a trust for guidance, but the court is not bound by a guardianship preference stated in a will. Finally, if there is no will or guardian preference designation, the court will then look to other family members or other interested parties to seek the most appropriate individual to care for the child. If there is no one, the court may then go on to appoint someone else outside the family.
Who Can Be Eligible to Be a Guardian?
Anyone who believes that a guardianship is necessary can petition the court to get court approval. This should be someone who has a close relationship with the child, most usually a relative, but that is not always necessary.
The court will want the individual petitioning for guardianship to be
- 18 years of age or older
- Able to provide a safe and appropriate home for the child until they reach maturity
- Able to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child
- Able to financially care for the child
For children over the age of 12, the court
willmay allow their input into who they would prefer as their guardian. Furthermore, changes can be made if it is decided that a current guardian is not meeting the needs of the child.
The court will be unlikely to appoint anyone who has been convicted of a felony, or if the applicant is unable to qualify for a required bond due to financial issues such as a bankruptcy, credit problems, or any criminal convictions concerning financial dishonesty. If there is a surviving parent but a guardian has been appointed in lieu of the parent, consideration will be made for the parent to be able to visit the child under certain conditions.
Getting the Legal Assistance of a Murfreesboro Family Lawyer
Guardianship can be a complex undertaking and the court will take many matters into consideration before appointing a guardian. If you are seeking guardianship for a loved one, you should seek skilled legal advice to understand your rights, responsibilities, and options.
At The Law Office of David L. Scott, our experienced Murfreesboro family law attorney will represent you and guide you throughout the process. Call us at (615) 896-7656 or contact us through our online contact form to schedule a consultation.