There are many reasons someone may need to become a guardian of minor children or another adult. For a child, it may be because the parents are deceased or unable to care for the child financially. For an adult, they may have disabilities or health issues, making it impossible for them to care for themselves. When someone steps in to serve as a legal guardian, they take on the responsibility of caring for that minor or adult.
What is Legal Guardianship?
Legal guardianship occurs when a judge grants guardianship of a minor child or adult (also called wards) to another person, making that person responsible for the care of the ward. The courts will specify what “care” means based on the case. The awarding of guardianship over a minor child typically includes providing food, housing, clothing, medical care, and any other necessary care. The legal guardian of a child will be able to make all decisions (unless otherwise specified by the judge) regarding legal, medical, and social matters. Becoming a guardian of an adult unable to care for themselves may include all of the same care responsibilities as a minor child. This type of guardianship may also entail the ability to make legal, medical, and social decisions for the adult, but not the same responsibility to provide food, housing, clothing, or other financial burdens. The specifics of the guardianship role of an adult caring for another adult may vary from case to case, depending on the scenario.
How Do I Get Approved as a Legal Guardian in Indiana?
Much like a child custody case, the judge’s main concern in the case is the ward and their best interests. The courts will evaluate your stability, character, and ability to provide the required care for the ward. They will also consider the relationship between you and the minor or adult. There are also a few things the court will take into consideration when approving a legal guardian. If the guardianship was requested in a will or other legal document by the child or adult’s previous parent or legal guardian, the court will try to honor that request, provided the guardian in question is able to provide the care. The courts will also consider the desires of the child or adult in most cases. If the incapacitated adult requests the guardian, the judge will try to accommodate the request unless the guardian is otherwise unfit. If the minor child is over 14, the judge will also take their opinion into consideration.
As a legal guardian, there are a few limitations to what you are allowed to do in Indiana. These limitations are in place to protect the ward, and a guardian may face criminal charges if they violate these limitations without court approval. For starters, the legal guardian is not allowed to spend the money of the ward, change their will, or sell their property or assets without permission. You are also not allowed to move the ward, whether a minor child or an adult, out of state without court permission.