You may have heard the term "guardianship" before, but perhaps you are unsure what exactly it means. A legal guardian in Colorado is someone who looks after a child, but is not the child's parent. If you are a child's legal guardian, you are responsible for his or her every day care such as housing, meals, schooling and medical care. Guardianship differs from adoption in that the child's parents have not terminated their relationship with the child. As a legal guardian, your caretaker duties are often temporary until permanent care for the child is arranged.
Often times, legal guardians are family members. A grandparent, aunt or uncle may step in to care for a child when his or her parents cannot. This type of situation can be beneficial, as the parent will still have access to the child but will not be responsible for the child's well-being. As a guardian, you may, however, still receive financial support from the child's parents.
The court may need to appoint a legal guardian for a child until other arrangements for his or her care can be made. The court can appoint you as a legal guardian if one of the following criteria apply:
- The child's parents have consented to the guardianship
- The parents' rights have been terminated by the court
- The parents are unable or unwilling to exercise their parental rights
- The guardian previously appointed to the child is no longer able to fulfill his or her duties
In order to be a guardian, you must be at least 21 years old. You must also pass a criminal background check performed by the court.