Legal Guardianship in Ohio

Columbus Divorce Attorney

A legal guardian typically looks after a child's basic needs, including shelter, education, and medical care, while the parents retain their legal decision-making rights. A guardian may also look after the child's assets if a guardian of the estate has not been appointed.

A guardianship is different from adoption in the fact that the biological parents may be required to provide child support and can still make decisions regarding the child's well-being. The child also will still retain inheritance rights if the biological parents die without leaving a will. With adoption, the biological parents relinquish all parenting rights, and the child has no claim to inheritance without a will.

Types of Guardianship

  • Guardian ad litem: A guardian ad litem is often appointed to act as if in the child's shoes during litigation, often involving divorce, domestic abuse or child custody proceedings. The guardian is charged with representing the child's best interests, which may or may not be in line with the parents, or even the court, position. A guardian ad litem may also be appointed to advocate for an adult who is mentally disabled or incapacitated.
  • Standby Guardianship or Emergency Guardian: Ohio law allows a parent to arrange for temporary care or custody of a minor in the event that the parent becomes physically or mentally unable to care for the child, or dies, and allows the standby guardian to assume responsibility for the child to avoid the child's placement in foster care. In other situations, an emergency guardian may also be appointed by the court when there are questions of domestic abuse or an unexpected circumstance that renders the parents unable to care for the child. This role is most often assumed by a foster parent.
  • Interim Guardian: Often a foster parent, an interim guardian is appointed to care for the child for a limited period of time until permanent guardianship can be arranged.
  • Guardianship of your own child: Though it sounds redundant, if your child is the beneficiary of a significant inheritance, award or income, you may need to petition for guardianship of the child's finances. It is then the parent's responsibility to show the court how the assets are being managed and invested.
  • Guardian of the Estate (Conservator): An impartial third party is appointed to oversee the child's finances, often a lawyer or accountant. This is common when a child receives significantly more income than the parents, or if the parents have mishandled the child's assets.
  • Guardian of the Person: A guardian of the person is responsible for all areas related to the child's wellbeing, including shelter, education and medical care, while a separate guardian of the estate is charged with looking after the child's assets.
  • Plenary Guardian: A plenary guardian has all the responsibilities one would assume of a parent. Both guardian of the person and estate, the guardian makes decisions about the child's welfare and finances.
  • Limited Guardian: A limited guardian is appointed to oversee one specific area of a person's life. Usually a limited guardian will control decisions regarding the person's health. For instance, if parents are opposed to certain medical treatments for their child, or if an adult is not mentally capable of making health decisions but can function otherwise, a limited guardian may be charged with deciding in the person's best interests.

Schedule Your Case Review Today

If you have questions about your responsibilities as a guardian, want to pursue a guardianship or make arrangements for the guardianship of your own children, speak with the experienced attorneys at Richard L. Morris Co., L.P.A to discuss your options.

Contact us at (614) 656-4252 or online for a free initial case consultation.

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