Probate Court – Child Guardianship
Every parent loves their children, but there are times when they may need help in caring for their children. The Probate Court can be an alternative to involving DCF by allowing the parties to decide who will care for the children.
Sometimes, a family member faces the difficult choice of asking the probate court to terminate one or both parents’ parental rights when minor children face danger due to abuse or neglect. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) might have to intervene and ask the court to protect a child from parents with substance abuse issues.
If you are the parent or concerned relative of a child and you would like to obtain guardianship, the probate court can help. The Christie Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience protecting the interests of children and their loved ones in custody matters before Connecticut’s Probate Court. Contact our office today to schedule an initial appointment.
Our lead child protection attorney, Nicole Christie, was an 11-year veteran of the Connecticut DCF and served as a prosecutor for another 12 years. Attorney Christie represents parents, relatives, foster parents, and other interested parties in child custody cases before the state’s probate court with the goal of securing a stable environment and lasting protection for minor children.
What is Guardianship?
In Connecticut, any person under the age of 18 is considered a minor. A person who has the legal duty and right to take care of a minor or their assets is referred to as their guardian.
Concerning custody in this state, guardianship refers to an adult that is authorized by law to provide care for and take physical control of a minor. This also gives that person the authority to make personal and medical decisions concerning that child’s welfare.
By law, a child’s birth parents are automatically have guardianship when that child is born. Each parent has equal responsibilities and rights with respect to the child unless the courts step in and make changes.
Relatives Seeking Removal of a Parent
If you are concerned about the welfare of a minor child in a relative’s care, you may be able to pursue the matter in the state’s probate court. According to the Connecticut Probate Court, one or both parents of a minor child could be removed as guardians by the court if:
- The parent consents to the removal, or
- The court finds certain conditions to be present.
Any adult relative of the minor child, an adult with physical custody of the child, or an attorney representing the child can file to have one or both parents removed as the guardian. The petition should be filed in the district probate court where the minor permanently lives or is currently residing.
When a petition has been filed, the court will schedule hearing, and there will be a DCF investigation. After the hearing, if one or more of the following conditions are present, the probate court may decide to remove the parent as the child’s guardian.
- The parent has abandoned the child.
- The parent has denied the child the guidance and care necessary for their emotional, physical, educational, and moral wellbeing due to their acts or omissions.
- The child has suffered physical injuries that are not accidental, is in a condition due to maltreatment, or has injuries that are inconsistent with the provided history.
- The child has been found to be uncared for or neglected as defined in C.G.S. section 46b-120.
- The parent agrees to their removal as the child’s guardian.
If one parent is removed as the guardian, the other becomes the sole guardian. If both are removed, the court will appoint a new guardian for the child.
Due to the seriousness of these proceedings, you should seek the advice and representation of legal counsel to ensure you get the best possible result for you and your family.
Granting Guardianship in Connecticut
When parents can no longer care for their children, either temporarily or permanently, relatives or other interested parties can intervene to become the children’s legal guardian. This process gives the guardian the right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child and instills in them a responsibility to act in their best interests.
When the probate court appoints a guardian, it is required to consider the following factors:
- The ability of the proposed guardian to meet the emotional, physical, educational, and moral needs of the child on a continuous basis;
- The child’s wishes if they are over the age of 12 or sufficiently mature to form a preference;
- Whether or not there is an established relationship between the child and the proposed guardian; and
- The best interests of the child.
Speak with an Experienced Connecticut Guardianship Lawyer
When the Probate Courts become involved in the custody of your child, or you have a relative who can no longer care for their child, we understand that a lot is at stake. The Christie Law Firm, LLC, can help you exercise your rights and will advocate for your interests. Contact our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.