Springfield Guardianship Attorney
At times, it might be necessary to go to court and establish a guardianship to protect a child or adult with disabilities and help them manage their affairs. At Courtney & Mills, our Springfield guardianship attorneys can assist you in this process, so you’ll have the legal authority and ability to help a disadvantaged loved one meet their needs for care and financial security.
Guardianship of a child – When parents of a child are unfit or unwilling to be “parents,” a court can designate someone else to step in. This process does not terminate the parent-child relationship, but it does allow someone else to have custody and decision-making authority for the child until the court orders otherwise.
Guardianship of the mentally infirm – When individuals are unable to care for themselves or make sound financial decisions due to mental infirmity, the court can appoint someone to assist the individual. The scope of assistance depends upon the mental capacity of the proposed ward.
Who can be a legal guardian in Missouri
If otherwise qualified, a person can be appointed to serve as a guardian in one of the following ways:
- A person appointed by the parents of a minor child
- A person nominated by a minor over the age of 14 with no living qualified parent
- A person named in a will to serve as guardian over the testator’s minor children
If none of these appointments have been made or apply, the court will appoint the most suitable person who is willing to serve, so long as court deems the guardianship is in the best interests of the child for a stable and permanent placement. The court selects a guardian from among the following candidates, in priority order:
- An eligible person nominated by a ward who is able to make and communicate a reasonable choice
- A person nominated in a Power of Attorney
- The spouse, parents, adult children, adult sibling or other close adult relative
- Any eligible person nominated in the will of a spouse or relative mentioned above
The court will not appoint an unrelated third party to serve as a guardian unless no relative is suitable and willing, or it would not be in the ward’s best interests to appoint a relative.
The court defines the scope of the guardianship and may create a limited guardianship with only partial authority over the ward. For instance, the ward might be able to make decisions with help but still need protection from legal, financial, and contractual obligations. The court can also appoint a standby guardian in certain cases, such as when a parent is temporarily ill.
Alternatives to guardianship
Missouri courts can create limited or total guardianships, depending on the individual’s needs. Courts generally want to impose the least restrictive conditions necessary to help the ward manage essential requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety and care. Some less restrictive alternatives to guardianship can include:
- When a minor or disabled adult lacks the ability to manage financial resources, the court can appoint a conservator over the person’s financial affairs only.
- A person with a power of attorney for health care, property or case/care management will have the authority to act in limited areas.
Call Courtney & Mills for Help with Guardianship Matters in Springfield
For practical legal advice and technical assistance related to guardianships in Missouri, call the Springfield family law attorneys Courtney & Mills locally at 417-869-9888, toll-free at 888-844-7518, or contact us online.