The process for petitioning the court to apply for guardianship in Maryland is not an easy process. It therefore may be prudent for an individual to speak with a Maryland guardianship lawyer who is familiar with the guardianship process. With the advice of any attorney, an individual can understand what his or her obligations are and understand his or her standing to petition to court to be guardian of a minor child.
In Maryland, guardianship determinations are made by a judge, and depending on the nature of the petition, the petitioning process can take somewhere from a few months to a year before an individual is appointed.
When an individual petitions the court to be named guardian of a minor, the court first appoints the guardian ad litem for the minor child. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the minor child as his or her attorney in court. Often, the guardian ad litem will visit the child and speak with the child; they may observe the child and the guardian or the petitioning guardian interacting. In addition, if a guardianship petition is successful, then the guardian will be required to report to the court about the status, condition and the assets and expenses of the minor ward.
To become guardian of a minor, the individual has to prepare a petition for the court. Depending on whether the petition is for guardian of the property or guardian of the person or both, the petition will include identifying information about the guardian, the reason for appointment, the petitioner’s standing or priority to serve as guardian. For some cases, that will include the assets of the guardian.
The process of petitioning and filing the required reports may be complicated because the judge makes the determination in the best interest of the child. Each case is unique, and each of the pleadings is reflective of the unique case facts and situations of the petitioning party and a reason for the petition.
Details of the Petition
The petition may include the condition and the current care of the guardian. It will also include character information regarding the petitioning party, including why that petitioner is suited to serve as guardian of the individual. Often, the petition is served on all of the interested persons and all of the family members of the ward.
The petition includes identifying information about the guardian or the petitioning party and the minor child. Often, the petition will include a list of assets of the minor child or anticipated assets of the minor child. The petition will also include character information regarding the petitioning guardian. The petition will also include other interested persons, including family members of the minor wards who may be interested in the guardianship proceeding. The petition will include the reason why a guardianship is necessary and evidence why appointment of the guardian would be in the best interest of the minor child.
Obstacles in Process
Generally, the petitioning process may encounter road blocks if individuals objects to the appointment of the petitioner. Typically, in that case, there will be a hearing to determine the best interest of the child. At the hearing, there may be presentation of character testimony or expert testimony on behalf of the petitioner and on behalf of the objecting parties so that the court can make a determination on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the facts presented to them regarding what would be in the best interest of the child.
The court will also look at the individual’s financial ability, previous relationship with the child, or their ability to provide and care for the child as factors in the determination of appointment of that individual as guardian.
How an Attorney Can Help
An attorney can assist with the preparation of the pleadings for an individual. They can advise the individual about the duties and the role of the guardian, as well as, help the individual understand the responsibility that he or she has undertaken if successfully appointed. In addition, if necessary, an attorney can assist with finding and preparing witnesses for a hearing. In the event that a guardian is successfully appointed, the attorney can assist with the preparation of the continued required court reporting.