Types of Guardianships
A law which took effect July 1, 2002, allows custodial parents to sign a document designating a standby guardian for their child or children in the event the parent(s) become incapacitated. The guardianship is not activated until a health care professional certifies that the parent or parents have actually become incapacitated. At that point, a notice of the Standby Guardianship must be filed in Probate Court, along with a copy of the designation and the health care certificate.
The new Standby Guardianship Act, which became effective July 1, 2002, authorizes a parent or legal guardian of a minor child to sign a document designating another person to act as a standby guardian for the minor in the event the parent or legal guardian, due to his or her mental or physical condition, becomes unable to care for the minor. The Act sets out a form for use in designating the standby guardian; any other document used to name a standby guardian must contain the same information and be in substantially the same format.
Probate Court is not involved in the signing stage. If and when a physician or licensed nurse practitioner makes a written determination that a parent or legal guardian who signed such a designation has in fact become unable to care for the minor by virtue of a physical or mental condition, the standby guardianship is activated. At that point the standby guardian is required to file a Notice of Standby Guardianship (see right sidebar to download), along with a copy of the Designation of Standby Guardian (see right sidebar to download) and a copy of the Health Care Determination, in the Probate Court of the county of residence of the minor. The Probate Court files and records the notice and attached copies, but takes no further action unless subsequent proceedings are later filed as described in the next paragraph.
The standby guardianship automatically expires four (4) months from date of the health care determination unless the standby guardian files a petition seeking guardianship of the minor. This would probably most often be a petition seeking temporary guardianship. It would be filed in the court in which the notice was filed. The standby guardian has priority of appointment in the later guardianship proceeding.
The fees are:
||Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, mandated fee on all civil cases
||Per page filed
Sometimes parents are temporarily unable to care for their minor children and must place them with a friend or relative who can care for the children until the custodial parent(s) can do so again. In these situations, a Temporary Guardianship of the Minor can be useful to the parties so that the Temporary Guardian can enroll the child in school, authorize medical treatment, etc. For information on the procedure necessary to obtain a Temporary Guardianship, please consult the Temporary Guardianship web page.
This Court will not grant Temporary Letters of Guardianship from one custodial parent to another. A custody change or temporary agreement must be filed in the appropriate Court having jurisdiction, usually the Superior Court but sometimes Juvenile Court.
Either the proposed guardian or a parent of the child for whom a guardianship is sought may pick up a Petition for Temporary Letters of Guardianship of Person of Minor from our office. This Georgia Probate Court Standard Form is also available at the official statewide Probate Court web site, www.gaprobate.org. The petition available at our office has other, non-standard forms that will also need to be filled out, including a Consent Form for a criminal background check and a guardian questionnaire.
The petitioner(s) must fill out and sign a consent form allowing Probate Court to receive information concerning their criminal records. The signed, notarized consent form(s) should be filed with the guardianship petition. The fee is $5.00 for each person's criminal record check and this fee will be charged with the filing fees for the petition.
The person filing the petition should neatly complete pages 1, 2 and page 3 before filing with the Court. Make sure the blanks on page 6, the “Acknowledgment and Consent” form, are filled in properly BEFORE the parents sign this page. By signing this page, the parents are consenting to the appointment of the proposed temporary guardian. Where indicated, the petition must be signed in the presence of a notary public or a Probate Court clerk and the appropriate seal affixed. Proper identification of the person(s) signing the document must be provided.
A copy of the minor's birth certificate showing the full name of the minor and parent information will be required.
Once pages 1, 2, 3 and 6 of the petition, the consent form, and the questionnaire are completed, the proposed guardian can file them with a court clerk. At this time, a clerk will prepare the notice section of the Petition for Temporary Letters of Guardianship, if necessary. If a minor is between the ages of 14 and 18, he or she should accompany the proposed guardian to the Court in order to sign, in the presence of a court clerk, the selection of the petitioner as temporary guardian (Page 5).
If a higher court has terminated one of the parent's rights, a copy of that order must be filed with us. The parent whose rights were terminated need not sign the relinquishment form or be served in any other way. This does not mean a parent who was given full custody - it means total termination of parental rights.
If a parent who does not sign the Acknowledgment and Consent form has a current or last known address, then that parent must either be served personally by a Sheriff's Deputy or by certified mail, depending on the situation. Additional fees will apply.
If either parent does not, will not, or cannot sign the Acknowledgment and Consent, and the petitioner knows of no current or last known address for that parent, a citation must be published in the county legal organ (The Times-Georgian), stating that a petition for guardianship for the child/children has been filed in the Probate Court. The missing parent or other interested party is given a certain date and time by which any objection to guardianship must be filed. When such notice by publication is required, a fee for the legal ad must be paid to the newspaper.
After complying with all of the necessary legal requirements and if your petition is approved, then the final order will be granted and Temporary Letters of Guardianship will be issued to you; the certified copy of the Letters of Temporary Letters of Guardianship will be mailed to the Temporary Guardian 7 - 10 days after they are issued.
The fee for the guardianship is approximately $115.00 to $150.00, depending on the documents and notice required under the circumstances. The filing fees must be paid AT THE TIME OF FILING. Acceptable forms of payment for court costs are cash, money order or check made payable to "Probate Court". Fees paid to the Times-Georgian Newspaper will be paid DIRECTLY and the Court has no knowledge of the costs for publication.
If the guardianship is dissolved at any point, then the fee is approximately $60.00 - $100.00, depending on notice and documents filed. These fees are due upon filing.
Please call (770)830-5840 if you need further information or have procedural questions. Questions of a legal nature must be directed to an attorney.
Permanent Guardianships of minor children are not authorized unless both parents are deceased or the parental rights of any living parent have been terminated by a court. Termination of parental rights is not the same thing as a loss of custody. Termination is permanent. A custody order may be modified at a later date.
Conservatorship of Minor
A conservatorship of a minor is required in order for any person to receive, on the minor's behalf, money or property valued at $15,000 or more. No permission is needed for a natural guardian to receive any money or property for their child if the property is worth less than $15,000.