Thinking of growing your family or opening your home to a child in need? Do you have an adult family member or friend who is unable to care for themselves due to mental or physical limitations and wish to have the authority to help them?
If you’re looking to gain guardianship over a child or an adult who cannot care for themselves, or to adopt a child or another adult, talk to the experienced Arizona family law team at Scottsdale Family Law. We’ll break down the intricacies of these laws for you, so you can understand what rights you have.
Adoption is when birth parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights or have their parental rights terminated by the court. Adoptive parents will be the legal parents of the child and assume all rights and responsibilities as if they were birth parents. An adopted child has rights to your inheritance if you have no will, and the right to be financially supported by you. Adoption is a permanent arrangement.
In some circumstances, you can even adopt another adult, such as a former foster child or stepchild!
Whether you want to adopt your spouse’s child, a relative, or a child you have no legal relationship with, the team at Scottsdale Family Law can help you navigate the road to becoming a legal parent.
When it comes to guardianship, there are two roles: the guardian and the ward or “protected person”. Many people think of a “ward” as a child, but it can also be an adult.
A guardian must look over the well-being and care of the protected person. This means that the guardian can make medical, personal, and housing decisions on behalf of the ward. If the ward is a child, then they can also make decisions about the ward’s education as well. Guardianship of a child usually terminates automatically once the child turns 18 or the circumstances requiring the guardianship resolve but can also terminate for a number of other reasons. Guardianship of a child is not designed to be a permanent arrangement even when the court confusingly labels it as a “permanent” guardianship, and the ward has no right to inherit from the guardian unless the guardian names him in their will or trust. As important, the ward’s legal parents still have a legal duty to support the child so a guardian could seek child support.
In Arizona, the consent of the parents is usually required. Navigating paperwork and consent issues, as well as what to do when a parent will not agree is something the Arizona family law team at Scottsdale Family Law are ready to help you with.
When an adult is unable to manage their assets because of mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness, disability, chronic drug or alcohol use, or other causes to the extent that they lack sufficient understanding or capacity to communicate responsible decisions, then another adult may try to seek guardianship. Obtaining guardianship over an adult is a complicated process as the court must take extra care to ensure that the adult’s rights are fully protected and no one is trying to take advantage of them. In fact, the “incapacitated” adult is appointed their own lawyer as a matter of law and it is recommended that the person seeking to be named guardian hire their own attorney to file and help them be successful in being named the guardian.
In Arizona, a guardian’s powers over an adult may be limited to allow the ward the ability to control their lives to the extent permitted given their mental or physical limitations. Whether the ward is a child or an adult, the guardian must make decisions with the best interests of the ward in mind. The guardian must also update the court regarding the guardianship on a regular basis.
Guardianship of an adult may end when the ward regains the ability to care for themselves, dies, or the court chooses to end the guardianship because the guardian does not have the best interests of the ward in mind. Whether seeking to start or end a guardianship, we can help.
A person may be appointed to be a conservator if the ward unable to manage their assets because they are legally not adults (under 18), suffer from mental disorder or deficiency, physical illness or other disability that affects their mental abilities, chronic drug or alcohol use, or other causes to the extent that they lack sufficient understanding or capacity to communicate responsible decisions and has property or wealth that will be dissipated unless proper management is provided. Conservatorship can be awarded in general transactions or a limited transaction. Every decision a conservator makes must be made in the best interests of the ward.
If you’re hoping to become an adoptive parent or guardian, there are many legal hoops you’ll need to jump through to ensure everything is legally binding. The entire process can be tricky and it’s best to have a lawyer on your side every step of the way. The Arizona family law team at Scottsdale Family Law is here to make this process move smoothly for you. Call us today to learn more about your rights as a guardian.