What is Guardianship of a Minor?
According to the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services:
A guardian is a person or agency that is legally authorized to act on behalf of a minor or an incapacitated adult to assure that the person’s health, safety, and welfare needs are met and that his or her rights are protected. The duties of a guardian also include making decisions on behalf of the individual and giving informed consent in certain matters. However, the guardian is required to involve the person in decision-making to the extent that his or her abilities permit.
The State of New Jersey provides financial assistance to those who are caring for their grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or other children through what is known as the Kinship Care Subsidy Program. Kinship guardianship is one of the most common forms of guardianship of a minor in New Jersey but is an arrangement which has far-reaching implications for the life of the child.
Once the child lives under the guardianship of another individual, the biological parents lose all rights to the child – even though they may still contact and interactions with the child. The biological parents, however, still maintain some obligations to the child, including the obligation to pay child support.
The state considers guardianship only when it is clearly necessary – and only to the extent that it is required by the child.
There are a variety of options for processing a guardianship of a minor:
- A relative or another interested party may choose to pursue appointment as guardian privately, at his or her own expense. This option is the only one when guardianship of both person and property is sought.
- The Division of Developmental Disabilities can facilitate the court action at no charge for the legal costs. A family member or other interested party may be designated guardian of the person only, not of his or her property.
- A family member who is unable or unwilling to serve as guardian may propose another appointee.
- A family member who is unable or unwilling to serve as guardian may accept the appointment of the Division’s Bureau of Guardianship Services as guardian of the person.