In many cases, a family member is named a legal guardian of a child if the child's parents pass away before the child turns 18. The preferred guardian is usually named in the parents' will. however, as our team at the Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L., understands, some circumstances may warrant an adult taking on the legal responsibility to raise a child even if the parents are still living. You and other Florida residents may be interested in learning how this can occur, as well as the challenges you might face if you become the guardian of a child whose parents lost their rights.
There are many reasons parents could have their rights to raise their children terminated, explains FindLaw. One or both parents may be physically, emotionally or sexually abusive. The parents could have a problem with alcohol or substance abuse. An accident or illness may have rendered a parent mentally or physically incompetent to care for a child. A parent may even voluntarily sign over his or her rights. If you are a close family member, such as a grandparent, sibling of one of the parents or adult cousin, the court may request that you assume guardianship.
This is because family law courts prefer to have children maintain close ties with their family members whenever possible. As you might imagine, caring for a child whose parents had their rights terminated may present some unique challenges. The child might have problems with anxiety or depression, which could manifest as being withdrawn, having difficulty in school, being unable to make friends or acting out. You may wish to seek assistance from a therapist with experience counseling children with anxiety or abandonment issues. You might also find it helpful to enroll in parenting classes meant for legal guardians.
Assuming guardianship of a child who needs you can be difficult, but also rewarding, as our page on guardianships explains.