Guardianship provides the court-approved guardian with all the rights and responsibilities for caring and providing for a minor child and making decisions about the child’s education, health, and well-being.
Regular Guardianship is much more common and does not terminate the parental rights of the parent(s). The parent will still have rights of visitation and responsibilities for child support.
Permanent Guardianship may only be given to a family member or foster parent. It lasts until the child is 18 and does not terminate parental rights. The difference is that the parent may not petition the court to terminate the guardianship.
Delaware’s guardianship process begins with a Petition for Guardianship. If the parents consent, then a consent order may be entered by the court. If not, the petition will go before a judge or commissioner for a hearing. The judge will decide whether the proposed guardianship is in the best interest of the child, using the following statutory factors:
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to his/her custody and living arrangements;
- The wishes of the child as to his/her custody and living arrangements;
- The interaction of the child with his/her parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and any people living in the child’s home or affecting the child’s best interest;
- The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- How well each parent has in the past and currently satisfies their parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their children;
- Evidence of domestic violence; and
- The criminal history of any party or other resident of a household.
Guardianship matters can be complex. You need a skilled attorney to help you navigate the legal process and represent your interests in court. Contact us for a free consultation so we can answer your questions and discuss your specific situation. We can help.