How to Become a Legal Guardian of a Child in Kansas

Guardian of a Child A young girl stands with a teddy bear and smiling at camera. Beautiful girl with parents stands in the office of a lawyer.

Family circumstances sometimes lead a grandparent or other family member to ask for court appointment as the legal guardian of a child. Complicated Kansas laws govern court decisions and the legal process of guardianships for minors. If you are considering seeking appointment as the guardian of a minor child, you should start by discussing your circumstances with a knowledgeable family law attorney.

When Is a Guardian Necessary?

In Kansas, a child’s biological parents have a constitutional right to custody and control of a child, unless circumstances exist that necessitate court intervention. A parent can raise a child as they see fit. Standing alone, disagreement with decisions made for the child is not sufficient justification for a court to appoint a guardian.

Different situations can lead to the need for a guardian to ensure that the child is protected from harm and lives in a desirable home situation with a responsible person legally able to make important decisions for the child. Guardianship may be warranted if a parent abandons a child or does not properly care for a child due to impairment, involvement in criminal activities, lack of essential resources, or other reasons.

If a child is in imminent danger of harm, the guardianship process does not move sufficiently quickly to protect the child. Instead, a Child in Need of Care case may be more appropriate. Temporary custody may be awarded to a person other than a parent in these proceedings.

Our family law attorneys at Sloan Law Firm help clients with guardianship petitions and with Child in Need of Care cases. If you are considering either type of proceeding concerning a child in your family, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your circumstances.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Legal Guardian of a Child

A court-appointed guardian for a minor has substantial legal duties and responsibilities established in K.S.A. 59-3075. The guardian has custody and control of the child and is responsible for providing for the child’s support and maintenance, personal and medical care, education, and overall well-being. Appointment as guardian provides the authority to make decisions and arrangements affecting the child.

The guardian is subject to court supervision during the full term of the guardianship. The court order establishing the guardianship contains requirements that apply to the appointment, including periodic reports to the court.

Legal Process for Appointment as a Child’s Guardian

Becoming the legal guardian of a child requires filing a petition with the court. The petition is typically filed in the county where the child resides, but the court may permit filing in another county under specific provisions in Kansas law. State statutes establish detailed requirements for the contents of the petition, including a plan for the guardianship. Everyone affected by the request must be notified.

After the petition is filed, the court appoints a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests in the proceeding. The judge also may appoint an investigator to gather information concerning the child and the person requesting appointment and submit a report to the court.

After information gathering is complete, the court holds a hearing on the petition. The petitioner may request a trial with a jury, but usually a judge hears the case and makes the decision. Based on the evidence, the court determines whether a basis exists for appointment of a guardian and whether an appointment is in the best interests of the child. The court also decides whether the person applying for appointment is fit and suitable to serve as the child’s guardian.

A guardianship may be uncontested, or it may be contested if a parent or other person disagrees with the petition. In either case, the court makes the same determinations regarding what is in the child’s best interests and welfare.

Depending on the circumstances, the court may grant a permanent guardianship, temporary guardianship under K.S.A 59-3073, or standby guardianship under K.S.A. 59-3074. (A standby guardian assumes the duties, responsibilities, powers, and authority of guardian on the temporary absence or impairment of the child’s legal guardian, or the resignation or death of an appointed guardian.) Guardianship is a last resort. The court will limit the terms of a guardianship to the maximum extent possible.

Court Appointment of Guardian

If the court grants a petition for appointment of a guardian, the person granted guardianship files a written oath of guardianship. The oath affirms the guardian’s agreement to fully execute their duties as guardian and comply with all terms of the court’s order, including filing periodic reports with the court.

Schedule a Consultation with a Kansas Family Law Attorney

The family law attorneys at Sloan Law Firm assist clients with all types of proceedings involving children, including guardianship and Child in Need of Care cases. We take pride in our comprehensive experience, knowledge, and skill in all matters affecting children and families. We welcome you to talk with us about any issue involving your family by contacting us to schedule a consultation.

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Categories: Family Issues