If a child’s parents are not fit to parent, the Court may appoint a guardian. A guardian has the authority and responsibilities of a parent except the guardian is not obligated to financially support the child and he is not liable to others for the actions of the child.
Any interested person, including a grandparent, may ask the Court to be appointed as the child’s guardian. The Court will appoint a guardian for a child, if the Court finds that the parents have abandoned, abused, neglected or failed to provide the child with a stable home environment and that it is in the best interest of the child for the applicant to be appointed as guardian.
In addition, a Court will appoint a person as guardian if the evidence clearly shows that the person has been acting as the child’s “de facto custodian” and that it is in the best of the child to appoint the person as guardian. A person is the de facto custodian for a child under 3 year of age, if the child has lived with them for six months and they have been the primary care provider and primary financial supporter of the child. A person is the de facto custodian of child over 3 years of age if the child has lived with them for a year and they have been the primary care provider and primary financial supporter of the child during that period of time.