How Does Temporary Guardianship Work?

child image by Renata Osinska from

Authorizing temporary guardianship of a child to someone else sometimes becomes necessary if a parent is going to be away for awhile or is recovering from illness or injury, particularly if there is no second parent. While a biological or adoptive parent is normally considered to be a child’s natural guardian, a guardian appointed by the parent or a court can temporarily provide for a child's welfare at times when the natural parent is unable to do so.

Temporary guardianship is a form of power of attorney that gives another capable adult permission to care for your child for a period of time. The person petitioning for guardianship is usually a relative or close friend.

Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian

The guardian assumes responsibility for providing the child with a home and medical care. He is also responsible for seeing that the child is enrolled in school. Temporary guardianship gives the guardian the right to make medical decisions regarding the child, including consent for any medical procedures or surgery that might be necessary. In some instances, parents consent to temporary guardianship in order to allow a child to travel with the guardian. In cases where a parent is unable to provide any financial support for a child during the term of the temporary guardianship, the guardian might have to assume responsibility for supporting the child while the guardianship is in effect.

Filing the Petition

An attorney experienced in family law can offer advice or help move along the required paperwork. Unlike a permanent guardianship, temporary guardianship is assigned only for a short period of time. It normally remains in effect for between 30 to 90 days, but it can be extended if necessary.

The petition for temporary guardianship must be filed with the court in the county where the child resides. The parent must complete a temporary guardianship form. The consent of the temporary guardian is required as well. All pages of the petition form must be completed. A notary public then witnesses and acknowledges the signatures on the form. Valid identification of any persons signing the documents is presented at that time.

Temporary Letters of Guardianship

The temporary guardian must reside in the same household where the child will be living. A criminal history check of the person to be appointed guardian must be obtained before the petition for guardianship is submitted to the court. When the child's natural guardian signs the petition form, temporarily relinquishing parental rights, the final order is granted. By signing the consent and acknowledgment, the parent consents to the appointment of the petitioner as the minor child's temporary guardian for a period of time specified in the petition. A certified copy of the temporary letters of guardianship authorizing guardianship is then issued to the temporary guardian.