Newburyport Guardianship Attorney: Guardianship of a Minor
At Turco Legal, our Newburyport guardianship attorney helps clients navigate some of life’s most complex situations. Our firm handles all legal aspects of minor guardianship cases in Essex County. If you have any questions about guardianships, we are here to help. Call us at (978) 225-9030 to arrange your confidential initial appointment with a Massachusetts guardianship lawyer.
What Is a Guardianship?
In Massachusetts, a guardianship of a minor is a legal arrangement whereby a trusted adult—other than the child’s parent(s)—is granted the authority to care for and make decisions on behalf of the child. A guardian could be a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, an adult sibling, or another responsible adult. In general, a guardianship will be put into place when a child’s parent(s) are not available or capable of taking care of the child.
Is a Guardianship of a Minor the Same Thing as Legal Adoption?
No. There are important differences between a guardianship of a minor and a legal adoption of a child. Whereas a legal adoption permanently severs the parental rights of the child’s birth parents—as the party or parties filing for adoption actually become the child’s lawful parent—a guardianship does not abolish the legal relationship between a child and the child’s parents. This is the key distinction: A guardianship may be terminated if circumstances change, while an adoption is permanent.
A Guardianship Is a Big Step in Massachusetts: It Suspends Parental Rights
Massachusetts law holds that a guardianship will effectively “suspend” parental rights. In other words, a child’s parents will not have regular parental rights for as long as the guardianship remains in place. As an example, imagine that a child’s grandparents petitioned for and obtained a legal guardianship. Until that guardianship is removed, neither the child’s father nor the child’s mother will have access to their full parental rights. In fact, parents generally need to get permission from a guardian to visit a child.
Understanding the Standard for Guardianships in Massachusetts
Guardianship laws are in place to help ensure that minors are properly cared for and protected. The Commonwealth presumes that a child’s parent(s) is/are the best person to care for a child except for in an extreme situation. It is those situations when a guardianship may prove to be necessary. As a general rule, minor guardianship cases fit into one of two broad categories—
- Parental Consent: In some cases, a child’s parent(s) may support or otherwise cooperate with the guardianship process. As an example, a parent may agree that their parents (the child’s grandparents) are currently in a better position to provide care. When a parent—or a child who is 14 years of age or older—gives consent, the guardianship process can be easier to navigate.
- No Parental Consent: A guardianship may also be obtained over a parent’s objection or their refusal to engage with the process at all. If a parent refuses to give their consent to the guardianship, a Massachusetts judge must find that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the parent is unfit to fulfill their responsibilities. If you have questions about a guardianship case with no parental consent, an experienced Newburyport family lawyer can help.
Who Can File for a Guardianship of a Minor in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts law allows any legally competent adult to file for a guardianship. Although most guardianship petitions are filed by close relatives (grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc.), there is no legal requirement that a guardian must be a child’s family member. Further, multiple parents can file a joint petition for guardianship. If you have any specific questions or concerns about filing for a minor guardianship in Essex County, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Newburyport, MA guardianship attorney for help.
How Our Massachusetts Guardianship Lawyer Can Help
Guardianship cases are complicated. You and your family do not have to navigate these matters on your own. At Turco Legal, we handle minor guardianship cases with the care, sensitivity, and personal attention that these matters deserve. When you call our Newburyport law office, you will have an opportunity to work with a Massachusetts guardianship lawyer who can:
- Listen to your story and answer questions about guardianship law;
- Gather all of the documents, records, and information that you need; and,
- Handle the guardianship paperwork and represent you in any hearings.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation with a Newburyport Guardianship Attorney
At Turco Legal, our Newburyport guardianship lawyer has the professional skills and expertise that you can trust. If you have specific questions or concerns about guardianships in Massachusetts, we can help. Contact us at (978) 225-9030 to set up your fully private initial consultation. From our Newburyport law office, we serve people and families throughout Essex County, including in Salem, Andover, Amesbury, Gloucester, Hamilton, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Lynnfield.