Choosing a guardian can be a very difficult decision. A legal guardian is the person who will care for your child if both you and your child’s other parent die before your child reaches adulthood. If you don’t appoint a specific guardian, serious difficulties could result: there could be an application to the Court, and a judge would then be responsible for choosing a guardian.
This guide conveys all you need to know about choosing a guardian.
If you don’t appoint a specific guardian, serious difficulties could result: there could be an application to the Court, and a judge would then be responsible for choosing a guardian. It is best if both parents name the same people or person as the child’s guardian to avoid conflicts.
If you and your child’s other parent have separated and you would like to appoint a guardian to care for your child after your death, while the other parent remains alive, technical legal issues arise and it is important to seek specialist advice. It is also possible to put forward the name of an alternative guardian in case the first choice is unwilling or unable to accept the responsibility.
The loss of both parents is a very traumatic event for a child. Although it is very unlikely to happen, it’s important to think about what your child would need in that situation; stability, continuity, to be with his or her siblings and to feel loved and safe. The guardian therefore needs to be someone who loves your child, can cope physically, emotionally and financially with your child and any children of their own, can maintain the child’s other family and social relationships, and share in your values.
Parents are usually the first option. If your child’s grandparents are still fairly young and don’t live too far away, they may be an obvious choice. However, it’s important to consider whether your child would need to change schools and make new friends while coping with the loss of his or her parents. It’s also important to think about the ages of the child’s grandparents; taking on the physical burden of childcare may be too much.
Your siblings may be an ideal choice but again it is important to think about their ages, their lifestyles, where they live and whether their way of bringing up children is aligned to yours. Friends who live nearby may also be an option. If you do not have family living nearby then friends may be a good choice. Friends will likely have similar values to your own and there is less chance that schooling and other social activities would need to change.
It is important that you have the agreement of any person you would want to choose as your guardian. It’s also essential that family and close friends know about your decision. You may want to talk to your child about your decision as well. It’s important to stress that it is unlikely ever to be needed, but they may find it helpful to know who would look after them if anything were to happen to both their parents.
It is always possible to change your original decision when circumstances alter. As your child becomes older, the correct person to look after them may change, or the person you have chosen may no longer be able to carry out the task because their own circumstances have changed.
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