Thinking about guardianship is not usually enjoyable. The truth is that appointing a guardian means thinking of a worst-case scenario, and a time when your children may not be with you. Guardians may even be appointed if you were to die while still bringing up your child. It is, however, a very good idea to think about this and consider who will do the best job of raising your kids if you are no longer able.
What is a Guardian?
Legal guardianship is appointing a person or people to make the decisions for somebody else, for instance, your child, until they are capable of doing so on their own. It is an option for parents, and a way to make sure their kids are properly looked after if they are seriously unwell, for instance.
The guardian makes decisions about protection, care, schooling, and most of the areas a parent would usually cover.
The difference between guardianship and adoption is that, if in a position to do so, the biological parents may be able to resume parenting duties once again. It retains the rights of the parents going forward if they are deemed capable to look after their children.
Why Appoint a Guardian
Appointing a guardian involves a guardianship attorney and has to be ratified by the courts. It is a good option for peace of mind. Perhaps you are concerned about what might happen to your child if something happens and you can no longer care for them. Though you hope the situation never arises, it is good to know that if it does, you have a plan, and a potential guardian to take over.
Choosing the Criteria for a Guardian
With this in mind, choosing the right person to become a guardian is vitally important. Even if someone springs to mind instantly, think very carefully about whether or not they are right for this, and whether they would want to take it on (a conversation you will need to have with them).
If those you are considering are already parents, you will get a good idea of what they are like with their kids. It is okay to consider whether you would want your own children raised in this way, too.
Location & Living Situation
Ideally, you would like to know that your children will grow up in a pleasant location if they do require guardians. Think about the sort of place you want your children to grow up. Are there good schools in the area? What are the crime rates like? This should definitely come into your thinking.
Also, consider the living situation, such as whether or not the house would be big enough or if it is already crowded.
Religious & Moral Beliefs
You will want your child to be taken care of by somebody you align with on your morals and religion. Of course, there is space for a lot of different religions in this world and not all beliefs align 100%, but it is good if you can find a potential guardian that has similar views to you, and will raise your children with the morals you wish to instill in them.
Stable Job & Financial Situation
Stability is something we all aim for, and we all want to provide for our children. You can’t really go looking in detail at a potential guardian’s financial affairs, but the chances are you will know what kind of security they have. What is their job like? Are they likely to remain in this job for a long time?
While financial backing doesn’t automatically mean a good situation for your children to grow up in if you can avoid financial struggles this is definitely something to consider. Guardians who have stable jobs can also help children to aspire to the same when they grow up.
Age & Stage of Life
Often, the people we know to be wonderful parents and guardians are getting a little older. This means that they may no longer be in the best position to take on children, and they may not want to either. Consider whether your potential guardian candidates are at a good age to take on children and whether they are likely to remain in good health while your kids grow up.
Appointing a guardian can be a weight off your mind. It is a way to ensure you have a safety net in place should something bad happen. As a parent, putting your child first is something you always have to do, and having a guardian lined up in case something happens to you helps you to fulfill your duties as a parent, and potentially still have the chance to resume the duties at some point further down the line.