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The steps that are required for obtaining guardianship may depend on the jurisdiction in question. Usually, however, the person who wants to become a legal guardian has to petition a court in his jurisdiction for guardianship. He may also have to provide the court with evidence of why guardianship is needed and how he is qualified to take on this responsibility. Often, he will have to attend a hearing to present evidence and testify in front of a judge. In some cases, a prospective guardian will also have to post a surety bond as part of obtaining guardianship.
In many jurisdictions, guardianship is decided in a family or probate court. The person who wants to become a guardian usually has to complete a petition and submit it to the court for consideration. This petition will usually include information about the person who is seeking guardianship as well as the person in need of guardianship. It normally includes information about the reason guardianship is sought as well.
Typically, a court will require a person interested in obtaining guardianship of a child to demonstrate why the child needs a guardian. For example, the petitioner may prove to the court that a child’s parents are unable to care for him, or the parents may even choose him to have guardianship of their child. If a child’s parents are dead, but left instructions for the party to care for him, the prospective guardian may provide proof of this in court. On the other hand, if the child’s parents are incompetent or neglectful, the prospective guardian may have to demonstrate that he should receive guardianship without the parents’ consent.
Sometimes, a petitioner may seek guardianship over an adult instead of a child. In such a case, he will typically have to prove to the court that the adult he seeks guardianship over is incapable of caring for himself or making sound decisions regarding his life. For example, the prospective guardian may use a mental health professional's testimony to convince a judge that the person is mentally unstable and in need of a guardian.
Demonstrating that a person is in need of a guardian is only one part of obtaining guardianship. A petitioner may also have to demonstrate that he is the right person for this responsibility. If the court does not agree that the petitioner will be a responsible guardian, it may deny the petitioner’s request. Sometimes people will testify on behalf of the petitioner or against him. Such testimony may help a judge assess the petitioner’s character.
If a court decides to grant a guardianship request, it may require the petitioner to post a guardianship bond. This is a type of surety bond that is intended to help guarantee that the guardian will act responsibility and in the best interest of the person in his care. Sometimes judges may waive this requirement or a jurisdiction’s laws may make it unnecessary.