Many people call me asking for visitation rights with a grandchild or a child they have a close relationship with and suddenly are alienated from that child. They feel lost and helpless from the lack of power and control of the situation. They seek someone to help them reconnect with a lost child whom they had a strong bond with and are in a state of panic over not having any recent contact with that child. I respond to them there is a remedy and it does not involve family court. They are often oblivious to the solution. But I tell them have you heard of a Guardianship? They seem surprised at my response and solution to there lack of contact to the child they have grown so close with. They then proceed to ask do you need to be related by blood or be a parent to get a Court order getting visitation or custody of the child? And I tell tell them to get appointed as a Guardian of a person in Probate Court you do not need to have any familial ties to that child as in a adoption or a foster parent. I further tell them that if you have a strong bond with the child and have assumed the role as a parent to that child and have participated in the caring for and financial well-being of that child the Court will assess you as a prospective guardian of the child. Once that occurs you can assume the role of a de facto parent of that child.
What do Guardians do? well they hold many rolls for the child. They can be the caretaker of the child as in a provider for shelter, healthcare and medical decisions for the child. They can determine where the child goes to school. They can assist the child in making life decisions that a parent usually makes. You do not even need to be biologically related to the child to be appointed by the Court. Often family friends of the child as in godparents play a close role in raising a child and the parents simply cant handle the job. The friends or godparents can then go to court if they meet the criteria stated above and get a guardianship.
In addition, Grandparents often feel left out of the parenting process by their own children and then turn to a guardianship to gain access to their grandchild. However, they must meet the stringent criteria the “best interest” standard the Court invokes to appoint a Guardianship of the Person in Probate Court. Meaning they must have a relationship with the child the court determines that is in the best interest of the child that the grandparents must step in as parents. Often in these cases the parents cannot handle the parenting role and the grandparents must intervene as caretakers and often intervene under emergency situations.
One cannot seek a guardianship unless they are almost living the role as a parent to the child. So a person must assess what is their relationship with the child and are they closely bonded as a parent to got to court and get appointed as guardian.