Issues relating to guardianship of minors are handled in the Probate Courts. Anyone seeking to have Guardianship of the Person of a minor can refer to Connecticut General Statutes Section 45a-603 through 45a-625. Below is a brief summary of what a Probate Court has the authority to do as it relates to guardianship of a child.
If a parent is unable to care for their child due to an illness or absence, then they can ask that a temporary guardian be appointed for the child. Temporary guardianship lasts for a period of one year. The temporary guardian does not replace the parent as the guardian and the parent has the ability to terminate the temporary guardianship at any time.
A parent can designate a person to act as a standby guardian of their child in the event that a certain event happens where the parent is unable to act as guardian. These events are things like, being out of the country without the child for a period of time or a parent’s illness. The Probate Court is not involved in the process of appointing a standby guardian. Like a temporary guardian, a standby guardian works with the parent and does not replace the parent as guardian.
Removal of Parent as Guardian
First and foremost, a child’s two parents are considered joint guardians of a minor unless there is a court order otherwise. If one parent is removed as the guardian, or passes away, then the other parent becomes the sole guardian.
However, upon the filing of a petition by any adult relative of the minor by blood or marriage, a person with physical custody of the minor, or counsel for the minor, a parent can be removed as a guardian. Certain factors have to exist before the Probate Court will remove a parent as guardian. These factors include things such as: the parent consents to be removed as guardian; the child has been abandoned; the child has been denied proper care; guidance and control necessary for his or her physical, educational, moral and emotional wellbeing; the child has experienced physical injuries from the person who is supposed to be caring for them; or the child has been neglected pursuant to the DCF standards of neglect. These criteria are more specifically laid out in our law in Connecticut General Statutes Section 45a-610. A parent who has been removed as a guardian can still seek visitation with the child.
The Probate Court also has procedures for granting immediate temporary custody to a proposed guardian while the removal of guardianship is pending. Talk to an attorney about the legal aspects of temporary custody and removal of guardianship.
Reinstatement of Parent as Guardian
Just because a parent is removed as a guardian does not mean that they will never get their child back. A parent can ask the court to reinstate their guardianship if they believe that they have resolved the factors that led to the removal, however it must be in the child’s best interest to do so.