Not all parenting relationships are straightforward, in fact, some are
quite complex from both an emotional and legal standpoint. Some children
are not cared for by their parents, instead, they have a legal guardian
who looks out for their best interests.
A guardian is trusted with the responsibility to care for the child and
provide them with any necessities they might require. If you are interested
in becoming a child’s legal guardian, or if you wish to appoint
a guardian for your child, find out how guardianship laws apply in Texas.
Texas Guardianship Basics
Any minor child (under the age of 18) or incapacitated adult requires a
legal guardian. An incapacitated adult is anyone who cannot care for themselves
of make their own decisions. For example, a severely disabled adult might
need a guardian. However, most guardianship cases have to do with children.
A child’s parents are automatically trusted with custody, which means
a legal guardian is not necessary unless the parent is no longer the child’s
primary caretaker. If a parent cannot care for their child, they will
need to appoint a legal guardian in their stead. When a parent is deceased,
unfit, or absent, the child will fall to the guardian’s care. If
the child has another parent, the other parent will likely take custody,
or other relatives might file for custody instead. However, if custody
is not an option, the child will be entrusted to a legal guardian.
Guardians are charged with caring for their wards in the same way a parent
would care for a child. A guardian might be appointed on a temporary basis,
or a permanent one, depending on the situation.
The responsibilities of a guardian include:
- Providing for the ward’s health needs
- Providing the ward with safe housing, food, and other essentials
- Handling the ward’s estate or assets
- Guiding and supporting the ward
Appropriate Legal Guardians
Parents may appoint a legal guardian in their will or estate plan in order
to appoint a caretaker for their child if both parents should pass away.
In cases where the parent appoints a guardian, the court will honor that
request so long as the guardian is deemed fit. If the parent does not
appoint a guardian, the court will do so instead. When the court chooses
a guardian, it usually looks for the child’s closest living relatives,
such as grandparents, adult siblings, aunts, or uncles. However, if a
family friend chooses to apply for guardianship, it is possible they could
succeed, despite being unrelated. For adult guardianship, the process
is much the same, but the spouse of the incapacitated adult is typically
given first priority.
If you are dealing with a guardianship issue, our firm is prepared to help. Contact the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny
to discuss your situation with our Houston family lawyers.