Guardianship may be an option for minor children who do not have proper parental care. Guardianships are usually necessary in unfortunate circumstances including the death or incarceration of both parents, or abandonment of the children by the parents. To obtain guardianship of a minor child in a situation where the parent does not agree that he or she is unfit, the potential guardian must prove that the parent is "unfit." The United States and Oklahoma Constitution provide strong protections for parental rights, so a person seeking guardianship of a minor over the objection of the child's parents must have strong evidence that the parents are unfit to have custody and care of children. This often means that the parent is guilty of abuse or neglect. Prospective guardians must pass stringent, thorough background checks and investigation to demonstrate that they are qualified to have guardianship of children. While many guardianships are resolved by agreement, in many circumstances they are not agreed, so each involved individual will need strong legal counsel to protect their rights and the interests of the children.
Because so many guardianships concern parental fitness, many times there are other legal considerations and rights at issue. For example, if family members do not act quickly enough to intervene for their relative children, the state may remove the children and place them in foster care. In other cases, a guardianship can be a predicate to the establishment of grandparent visitation right. Guardians generally have the responsibility for managing the child's property and income, such as Social Security survivors or disabiltiy benefits. Individuals involved in or associated with guardianship cases will benefit from the analysis and advice of an experienced, knowledgeable family lawyer.