Bauer Family Law - Guardianship
From Wikipedia, the encyclopedia
A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the
personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of
guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity,
or disability. Most countries and states have laws that provide that the parents of a minor child are the
legal guardians of that child, and that the parents can designate who shall become the child's legal
guardian in the event of their death.
Courts generally have the power to appoint a guardian for an individual in need of special protection. A
guardian with responsibility for both the personal well-being and the financial interests of the ward is a
general guardian. A person may also be appointed as a special guardian, having limited powers over
the interests of the ward. A special guardian may, for example, be given the legal right to determine the
disposition of the ward's property without being given any authority over the ward's person. A guardian
appointed to represent the interests of a person with respect to a single action in litigation is a guardian
Some jurisdictions allow a parent of a child to exercise the authority of a legal guardian without a formal
court appointment. In such circumstances the parent acting in that capacity is called the natural
guardian of that parent's child.
Guardians ad litem are often appointed in divorce cases to represent the interests of the minor children.
The kinds of people appointed as a guardian ad litem vary by state, ranging from volunteers to social
workers to regular attorneys. The two divorcing parents are usually responsible for paying the fees of
the guardian ad litem, even though the guardian ad litem is not responsible to them at all. The guardian
ad litem's only job is to represent the minor children's best interests.
Guardians ad litem are also appointed in cases where there has been an allegation of abuse, neglect
or dependency. In these situations, the guardian ad litem is charged to represent the best interest of the
minor child which can differ from the position of the state or government agency as well as the interest
of the parent or guardian. These guardians ad litem vary by jurisdiction and can be volunteers or
Guardians ad litem are also sometimes appointed in probate matters to represent the interests of
unknown or unlocated heirs to an estate.
A guardian is a fiduciary and is held to a very high standard of care in exercising his powers. If the ward
owns substantial property the guardian may be required to give a surety bond to protect the ward in the
event that dishonesty or incompetence on his part causes financial loss to the ward.
In some jurisdictions a legal guardian is called a conservator or custodian. Many jurisdictions and the
Uniform Probate Code distinguish between a "guardian" or "guardian of the person" who is an
individual with authority over and fiduciary responsibilities for the physical person of the ward, and a
"conservator" or "guardian of the property" of a ward who has authority over and fiduciary responsibilities
for significant property (often an inheritance or personal injury settlement) belonging to the ward. Some
jurisdictions provide for public guardianship programs serving incapacitated adults or children.
Orlando Divorce Attorneys
Bauer Family Law
5401 South Kirkman Road
Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 926-0255
Facsimile: (407) 926-0254