Since we have been discussing guardians in Florida, today we thought we would look more closely at the legal process of how a court will appoint a guardian. The laws surrounding guardians in Florida require a specific set of steps to take place before someone can become a guardian of a child or incapacitated adult, and only a court can make the final determination. How does a court appoint a guardian? What has to happen during the process? Let’s take a look at the basic steps.
How Does a Court Appoint a Guardian? Filing a Petition
Like many processes before a court, the guardianship appointment process begins after someone decides to file a petition. The petition is a document that must include specific information, and which must be filed with a court that has jurisdiction over the parties involved.
In the case of a guardianship appointment, the person filing the petition, called a petitioner, has to include information about the person who the petitioner believes needs a guardian, called a respondent. The petition must also include details about why the petitioner is asking the court to get involved, as well as other key pieces of information, such as the name of the respondent’s next of kin.
How Does a Court Appoint a Guardian? After Filing
Once a petitioner has filed the petition, a series of steps will have to take place. First, the petitioner will have to ensure that the respondent is served with the petition. Serving means delivering the petition in a legally recognized manner, such as having a sheriff’s deputy hand delivering the document to an adult at the petitioner’s address. The petitioner will also likely have to make sure that other interested parties, such as the respondent’s next of kin, are also served copies of the petition.
How Does a Court Appoint a Guardian? The Hearing
Once all parties have been notified, the court will then hold a hearing. At that hearing the court will determine if there is enough evidence to show that the respondent is legally incapacitated and in need of a guardian. As part of this process, and prior to the hearing taking place, the court might appoint a Guardian ad Litem, or GAL. The Guardian ad Litem’s sole responsibility is to advocate on behalf of the respondent. The Guardian ad Litem is not a legal guardian, in that he or she cannot make decisions on the respondent’s behalf, but is responsible for representing the respondent’s interests throughout the guardianship process.
If the court is convinced that the respondent is incapacitated, it will then determine who should be the guardian. Once it does, it will issue a judgment that will name the guardian(s) and detail what kinds of decisions the guardian can make on behalf of the ward.
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