How Do You Get Guardianship of a Child in New Jersey?

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How Do You Get Guardianship of a Child in New Jersey?

Man holding small child

In the state of New Jersey, it is possible to obtain legal guardianship rights for a child that is not your own. This agreement is called Kinship Legal Guardianship, and it allows a non-parent to have the legal authority to parent and make decisions for a child. There are various reasons that legal guardianship might be necessary in the state of New Jersey.

If you are seeking New Jersey legal guardianship of a minor, you need to work with a skilled family lawyer. Becoming the legal guardian of a minor that is in a bad situation or who has lost their familial support system can be very important. When you work with the right lawyer for your guardianship in NJ, you will have much better luck securing this important legal right.

How Can I Qualify for Guardianship of a Child in New Jersey?

There are various reasons that you might qualify to seek legal guardianship in NJ. Guardianship of a minor can be done as an emergency guardianship arrangement, or it might be sought for the long term. In either case, you will want to work with a skilled family lawyer or guardianship lawyer who is experienced in these cases.

To qualify for kinship legal guardianship NJ, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  •         The child’s parents cannot care for the child any longer
  •         You, as the applicant, can financially care for the child
  •         The child has been in the care of the applicant for at least 12 months
  •         The guardianship is in the best interest of the child
  •         The applicant is related to the child or is a close family friend

In most cases, the biological parents will be granted visitation rights despite the fact that the guardianship of a child has been changed. As the guardian of this child, you will have the same rights as a parent, with a few exceptions. You will not be able to change the child’s legal name, and you cannot consent for the child to be adopted by someone.

What About Emergency Guardianship?

In some cases, both parents of the child might be in a situation where they cannot care for their child, but this might not be a permanent limitation. When these situations occur, emergency guardianship of a child can be granted to someone who is family or someone who knows the child well. These temporary guardianship arrangements can sometimes be altered to become formal guardianships if the need arises.

Emergency guardianship of a child is not intended to last for longer than a year, but in some cases, it can stretch on for much longer than was expected. In these cases, formalizing legal guardianship is almost always in the best interest of the child in question. While it can be hoped that the circumstances of the biological parent will change at some point, the child can be cared for properly in the meantime.

Is Guardianship the Same as Adoption?

Guardianship of a child is not adoption. When adoption is done, the legal custodial rights of the biological parents are terminated. This is always the last course of action that is followed when a parent loses the ability to care for or make decisions for their child, but in some cases, it can be the correct decision for the well-being of the child.

The kinship legal guardian can apply for adoption in the state of New Jersey, and they might also become eligible for state support in raising the child if necessary. The adoption process is not a quick and easy one, and legal guardianship of a child is almost always issued first so that the biological parents have a chance to improve their circumstances and be reunited with their child.

Working With a Skilled Guardianship Lawyer is Essential

Arranging a kinship legal guardianship of a child in the state of New Jersey is important for the well-being of a child who has lost the support of their biological parents. The goal of the state of New Jersey is never to break up families, but there are instances where a child will need to be cared for by another adult for a period of time. Legal guardianship rights can be offered to family, friends, and next of kin, and this can provide the stability that a child needs until such time as their parents are able to be reunited with them.

If you need help with legal guardianship of a child in the state of New Jersey, you need to work with a skilled lawyer. Contact us at DeTorres & DeGeorge today, and we will help you to get the guardianship rights that are in the best interest of a child in need. We service the Clinton and Florham Park NJ areas for help with guardianship cases and more.

Carolyn B. Hand
Carolyn Hand is a passionate and experienced litigator specializing in family law. In 2020, she was named partner at DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. Carolyn represents clients in family court in all matters pertaining to divorce, custody...
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