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3 Key Steps to Legal Guardianship on Long Island

by | Feb 12, 2019 | child custody and support, News and Events

In most cases of Child Custody on Long Island, custody is awarded to the mother or father of the child and typically it’s a combination of both. However, there are some situations where the child’s safety and wellbeing is at risk if they are placed with either the mother or father.

In these instances, another party can seek to establish legal guardianship. This is often done by other relatives, like aunts and uncles or grandparents. Here are the top three things you should know about legal guardianship on Long Island and how you can get the legal advocacy you need to pursue this challenging path.

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Step #1 – File a Petition for Legal Guardianship

The first step to obtaining legal guardianship over a minor on Long Island is to simply file a petition with the family court in your jurisdiction. You’ll pay a filing fee and you’ll submit formal paperwork that details your interest in obtaining legal guardianship over a minor and why. Although this first step is relatively simple and straightforward, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney at the start to ensure that your petition is compelling and that it’s filed in the proper court.

Step #2 — Discovery by the Court

Once your petition is received and processed, the court will begin the Discovery process. This is typically done through interviewing you, the parents of the child if they are available, and other parties who may be of interest. If the parents contest your desire to obtain legal guardianship, you may have to bring forward more evidence that illustrates why legal guardianship would be in the best interests of the child. If one or both of the child’s parents have abandoned them or are in jail, the discovery process becomes simpler. Consult with your attorney about what to expect during the discovery process in your particular case, because each case of legal guardianship is different.

Step #3. – Appearing in Court

The last step in the process of obtaining legal guardianship over a minor on Long Island is to go to court. This isn’t necessarily litigation, although it may feel like it if one or both of the child’s parents contest the fact that you’re pursuing guardianship. It’s more likely to be a simple hearing in front of the judge where all evidence is examined and a decision is made based on the preponderance of the evidence.

Court Decides Best Interests of the Child

The court remains unbiased and will make a decision to approve or deny your request for legal guardianship depending on what they consider to be in the best interests of the child. If you believe that it is indeed in the child’s best interests for you to be appointed their guardian, it is up to you to demonstrate  to the court why. This can be difficult to do, which makes it crucial to have an experienced Long Island child custody attorney on your side.

Will the Child’s Parents Have Visitation?

If you are successful at obtaining legal guardianship, the parents may or may not be granted visitation rights to the child. Long Island courts recognize the need for children to have a relationship with each of their parents, however, if that relationship is toxic and maintaining it is not in the best interest of the child, visitation may not be a concern. It’s important that you address the potential for visitation in your petition.

If you do not believe the child’s parents should be allowed visitation, you’ll need to state why and provide evidence to support your position. If visitation is warranted, you may be able to suggest a visitation schedule to the judge, who will rule in favor or against it. You have a much better chance of having a visitation schedule accepted if the parents of the child are also in agreement about the schedule.

Contact a Long Island Child Custody Lawyer About Legal Guardianship Today

Legal guardianship cases can be extraordinarily complex, especially since the situations that often lead to the need for legal guardianship are heartbreaking and difficult to manage. Get the support and advocacy you need when pursuing guardianship by calling our experienced Long Island child custody law firm today at 631-923-1910. We are available now to book your free initial consultation.


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