Pennsylvania Guardianship Law
Guide to Pennsylvania Guardianship
If you are considering PA guardianship for a child or a disabled adult, you may be wondering what you can expect from the family court system. Pennsylvania guardianship is a major commitment for any person, and should not be taken lightly. This guide will explain some of the reasons that a child or disabled adult may need guardianship, and the different types of guardian arrangements available under PA guardianship law.
Guardianship of Minors
In most cases, a child's legal guardian is his or her parent, and Pennsylvania guardianship laws do not allow any court hearings to create this legal relationship. However, in some cases, a parent is not available to take care of a child. This may be due to the death of a parent in some cases, or a severely debilitating illness. Children may also need a guardian appointed according to PA guardianship laws if their custodial parent is incarcerated for a long time.
In cases where a parent is able to suggest a guardian to the court, the parent's choice will be weighted heavily according to Pennsylvania guardianship laws. Typically a parent's preferred guardian will only be declined by a judge if the person chosen is unwilling or unable to accept the responsibilities of PA guardianship. Pennsylvania guardianship also allows a parent to specify a stand-by guardian for a child if they believe they may soon be incapacitated.
Guardianship of the Person
Disabled people may also be subject to PA guardianship laws. If a disabled person is unable to care for themselves or make basic personal decisions, the court may appoint a guardian of the person. This is a type of Pennsylvania guardianship that gives the guardian responsibility for making all day to day decisions about a disabled person's life.
PA guardianship laws specify a number of responsibilities for a guardian of the person, but there are a few limitations to what a guardian of the person can do. For instance, Pennsylvania guardianship laws do not allow a guardian to prohibit a marriage or consent to a divorce, or to consent to experimental medical procedures.
Guardianship of the Estate
If a disabled person is able to make some personal decisions but cannot reasonably be expected to make decisions about financial issues, a guardian of the state may be appointed according to PA guardianship laws. Many elderly people have this sort of Pennsylvania guardianship relationship established when dementia makes them incapable of handling their own finances.
If a disabled person is able to make some decisions but not others, the court may list specific PA guardianship responsibilities that a limited guardian is assigned to be responsible for. Limited Pennsylvania guardianship can take many forms, and largely depends on the exact abilities of the person who needs to have a guardian appointed by the court. When this kind of PA guardianship is assigned, the court will specify exactly what duties and what portion of the disabled person's assets are controlled by the limited guardian.