Gaining temporary guardianship of a child in Pennsylvania can be a complex issue. The rules for establishing a temporary guardianship do not follow the same guidelines as a non-temporary guardianship. While guardianships are typically created after a court hearing, temporary guardianships can be created without a court order. If you or a family member needs to establish a temporary guardianship, you should consult with an experienced Pennsylvania guardianship lawyer. Our diligent lawyers at Herr Potts and Potts are here to explain how to get temporary guardianship of a child in Pennsylvania.
What is a Temporary Guardianship?
A temporary guardianship transfers the power to make legal decisions for a minor child to another person for a limited time. This is helpful when you, as a parent or guardian, cannot be there in person to enforce a decision for your child or you need to delegate decisions to someone else.
Temporary guardianships are usually established for a particular purpose or timeframe. For example, a guardianship may draft an agreement that gives another individual the right to handle a child’s medical care. Other duties that can be granted in a temporary guardianship include:
- The right to govern the child’s education
- Securing emergency medical attention and approving treatment for a child
- Approving psychological evaluations and treatment
- The right to take the child on vacation either within or outside Pennsylvania
- Applying for welfare on behalf of the minor child
This is not an exclusive list of rights that a person could be granted. To learn more about what temporary guardianships can do in Pennsylvania, you should speak with a West Chester guardianship lawyer.
It is important to note that guardianship and child custody are two different legal processes.
How to Create a Temporary Guardianship in PA
A minor child’s biological parent, a custodian of a child, or a legal guardian chosen by the court can all create a temporary guardianship. Generally, a written agreement is used between two parties – the person creating the guardianship and the person receiving the guardianship. This written agreement is sometimes referred to as a “power of attorney.”
A temporary guardianship created by a written agreement may be canceled at any time by either party engaged in the agreement. It is important to note that a temporary guardianship agreement cannot be legally enforced by Pennsylvania courts. Temporary guardianships are typically used by parents who must travel for long periods of time or are too ill to care for a child. Therefore, if a close family member can care for the child while the parents are away, this may be preferable to a temporary guardianship. Despite being legally unenforceable, you should have the signatures of both parties in the agreement witnessed by a notary.
Risks of a Temporary Guardianship
There are a few risks to naming an individual as a temporary guardian of your child. As mentioned, temporary guardianship agreements are not legally enforceable in Pennsylvania. This means that you can grant temporary guardianship of your child, but if you have an issue with the temporary guardian of your child, you will likely need a court order to take action. Therefore, before you agree to a temporary guardianship, you should ensure that you are on good terms with your preferred guardian. If you entrust your child to a guardian that does not want to follow the terms of the agreement, you may need to seek legal action.
One risk of a temporary guardianship is the chosen guardian refusing to return the child to the parents after the agreement is canceled. If the guardian refuses to concede custody of a child, you will likely need to file a court order to contest the guardianship. In Pennsylvania, the courts will consider various circumstances when determining whether a temporary guardianship agreement should be canceled, and the child should be returned to his or her parents:
- How long the child has been in the care of the temporary guardian
- The purpose of the temporary guardianship
- Why the temporary guardian refuses to return the child
It is important to note that law enforcement will usually avoid interfering in temporary guardianship cases if there is no court order regarding the case. The unenforceable aspect of temporary guardianships makes it difficult for law enforcement to properly handle a dispute between a guardian and the child’s parents or custodian.
These risks are the reason that Pennsylvania does not provide residents with standardized forms to execute a temporary guardianship. If you want to create a temporary guardianship agreement, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney before you do. An experienced attorney can help you write an agreement that protects you and your child if an issue arises with the temporary guardian. You should not have to go to court to reclaim your child from an individual that may be unjustly keeping them away from you.
Our Delaware County Guardianship Attorneys Can Help You Create a Temporary Guardianship
If you need to create a temporary guardianship for your minor child, you should speak with an experienced Delaware County elder law attorney. At Herr Potts and Potts, our attorneys have served residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania for over 80 years, and we would be proud to represent you. Before you create a temporary guardianship, you should allow our attorneys to inform you of the benefits and risks of a temporary guardianship. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at (610) 254-0114.