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Understanding Guardianship in Massachusetts



Understanding Guardianship in Massachusetts

7 September 2023
Understanding Guardianship in Massachusetts

Guardianship for Minors

Guardianship is a legal way to provide care for a child when their parents can’t. If you’re at least 18 years old, a U.S. resident, and competent, you could become a legal guardian if the child’s parents:

  • Aren’t mentally able to care for the child.
  • Can’t be present for the child.

Steps to Obtain Guardianship in Massachusetts

  1. File the Paperwork: Start by submitting a ‘Petition for Guardianship’ and other necessary documents to the probate court in the child’s county.
  2. Notify Involved Parties: The child’s biological parents, current guardians, and the child (if they’re 14 or older) should be informed.
  3. Attend a Court Hearing: A judge will assess if the child needs a guardian and if you’re the best fit. Depending on the case, you may be granted temporary guardianship first, with a follow-up hearing later.

Guardianship isn’t forever. It might end when the child reaches 18, marries, or under other special circumstances.

Guardian Responsibilities:

As a guardian, you’ll largely have the same responsibilities as a parent. This encompasses the child’s education, health, day-to-day care, and more. However, the court might sometimes need to approve certain decisions.

Guardianship for Adults

Adults might also need guardians, especially if they suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s, mental health issues, or physical impairments.

When is Adult Guardianship Needed?

It’s required when an adult can’t make decisions regarding their well-being due to medical conditions.

Becoming an Adult Guardian

Similar to child guardianship, there’s paperwork, notifying relevant people, and attending a court hearing. However, the court might restrict your decision-making powers based on the adult’s capabilities.

In some cases, “Limited Guardianship” might be ordered, allowing the adult to make some decisions independently.

If you believe someone in your life—whether a child or an adult—needs a guardian, the process in Massachusetts is clear. Need further assistance? Reach out to Wright Family Law Group at 978-851-2291 or online for a consultation at either our Tewksbury or Danvers locations.

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