Guardianships do not require renewal
Question: I am caring for my sister's child because she is homeless and has mental issues. I am thinking about getting a guardianship over my niece, but I heard that a guardianship is not permanent. If I get the guardianship, will it have to be renewed?
Answer: According to Sheri Rand, Legal Aid's adoptions and guardianship manager, no. A guardianship continues until one of the following occurs: the minor turns 18 years of age, gets married, is adopted, the minor dies, if you are removed as guardian by the court, if you ask to be removed and are granted permission to resign by the court, or if you should die. It is only until one of these occurs that the guardianship will be terminated.
Q: I am married and my husband and I have been taking care of my cousin's teenager for the past year. Although my husband agrees that we should provide the child with a home, he does not want any legal responsibility for caring for the child. Can I become the child's guardian alone without my spouse?
A: According to Rand, yes. A married person can petition the court to become the sole guardian of a minor child without the spouse.
Q: My sister asked my mom and me to watch her children until she got back on her feet. It has been three years now, and it doesn't look like she will be able to be a responsible parent any time soon. Can my mother and I both become guardians of these children? How do we make decisions if there are two guardians?
A: According to Rand, yes. The court allows two relative family members to become co-guardians and share legal responsibilities equally.
Each co-guardian is authorized to act independently of the other co-guardian for the best interest and welfare of his/her ward. In the event either of the co-guardian dies, resigns, is removed or is determined to be incapable of serving as full guardian, the other co-guardian shall thereafter serve as full guardian.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.