Sometimes, It Takes a Village
If a child’s parents are unable to care for him or her, a family member or close family friend may step forward and petition the court to become a kinship legal guardian of the child. Kinship legal guardians assume legal custody of the child, while the parents retain some rights. Legal custody gives kinship legal guardians many of the same rights and responsibilities parents have, which I’ll outline below.
A kinship legal guardian may:
- Make caregiving decisions on a day to day basis
- Make decisions regarding the child’s education, including enrolling the child in school
- Provide consent for routine and emergency healthcare
- Make other important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing
- Applying for services for the child
Kinship legal guardians do not have complete authority over the child. They do not have the right to consent to an adoption of the child nor can they change the child’s name. The child’s parents retain these rights. Kinship legal guardians also do not have the right to withhold the child from seeing his or her parents until there is a court order.
Among these rights, kinship legal guardians have many responsibilities as well. They assume most of the responsibility for caring for the child. On a day to day basis, they must ensure the child is safe and that his or her needs are met. Accordingly, they must take steps to become a licensed resource family (i.e. foster family) in the State of New Jersey. Once a kinship legal guardian obtains this license, however, he or she is eligible for resources such as a monthly stipend for room and board and health insurance coverage for the child.
Speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody and child welfare attorney if you have questions about kinship legal guardianship. If you are a family member or close family friend and are seeking guardianship of a child, an attorney can help you understand your rights and the process for obtaining guardianship. These types of court actions can be complicated, especially if the Division of Child Protection and Permanency is involved. But an attorney can help you do what it takes to ensure the child in question has a safe and loving home in which to stay.
Do you have questions about guardians’ rights? The knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC can explain and help you defend your rights. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.