The process of filing for guardianship 

Prepare and file the necessary forms. There is no fee to file a petition for Guardianship of a Minor. Once you have filed the papers, the Probate and Family Court will send or give you a Notice and Order. This is a paper that tells you when your court hearing will be and the people who need to be sent notice.

Provide notice. Giving proper notice includes providing a copy of the Petition, and a copy of the Order and Notice that the court will give you, to the “interested parties.”  There are very important rules about how this is done. See Instructions on How to Give Notice pdf format of Notice Instructions Gdn of Minors (MPC 936)
for the details. The “interested parties” include:

  • The child’s parents (you do not need to send notice to a parent whose rights have been terminated)
  • If the parents are dead,  the child’s nearest relatives over age 18;
  • The child if the child is  14 or over;
  • Any current guardian or conservator for the child; and
  • Anyone the child has lived with during the past 60 days, not including foster parents. If DCF has custody of the child, they must be notified
  • The United States Veterans Administration  if the child is entitled to any benefits.

The minor child has the right to a court appointed lawyer.

The minor child has the right to have a lawyer to represent him or her.  The minor or someone acting on his or her behalf can ask the court to appoint a lawyer for the minor. See Request for Counsel pdf format of Request for Counsel (MPC 301)
.  If the minor or person acting on his or her behalf asks for a lawyer, the court must appoint an attorney.  If the minor is poor and cannot afford a lawyer, the court can order that the minor's lawyer be paid by the state.

Right to counsel for parents of minor child:

If you are a parent of the minor child who is the subject of a guardianship of minor case you have a right to be represented by an attorney. If you want an attorney and cannot afford to pay for one and if you give proof that you are indigent, an attorney will be assigned to you. Your request for an attorney should be made immediately in person or by mail to the court location where your case is going to be held.

The Hearing

The Notice and Order will have a hearing date.  At this court hearing the court will determine if:

  • the person seeking appointment is qualified;
  • the case is in the right court;
  • the required notices have been given;
  • the basic conditions for an appointment have been met; and
  • that requested appointment provides for the welfare and best interest of the child

it makes the appointment on a court form called Decree and Order of Appointment of Guardian of a Minor, and issues a letter of appointment.  If the court is not able to make a final determination at this hearing, a temporary decree of Guardianship may be granted and another court date will be scheduled.