File for guardianship of a minor

Learn how to file for legal guardianship of a minor and what forms you'll need.

Probate and Family, District & Juvenile Court locations

The Details   of File for guardianship of a minor

What you need   for File for guardianship of a minor

Before you begin the guardianship process, you may want to find out if you can become a caregiver for a minor, since this is a much simpler process.

To request to become the guardian of a minor, you'll need to file:

Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to file:

How to file   File for guardianship of a minor

To file for guardianship of a minor in person, you should bring your completed forms to the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives, unless there is already an ongoing case involving the child in a Juvenile Court or District Court.

You can mail the forms and fees to the correct Probate & Family Court.

You can eFile your forms online at eFileMA. For more information on how to eFile, please see eFiling in the Probate and Family Court.

Next steps   for File for guardianship of a minor

  1. Provide notice

    Once you've filed the forms, the 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. You'll need to give notice by providing copies of the Petition and the Order and Notice to the interested parties, which includes:

    • The child's parents. If the parents are deceased, the child's nearest relatives over age 18. However, you don't need to send notice to a parent whose rights have been terminated.
    • The child, if the child is 14 or older
    • Any current guardian or conservator for the child
    • Anyone the child has lived with during the past 60 days, except foster parents. If the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has custody of the child, they must be notified too.
    • The United States Veterans Administration if the child is entitled to any benefits

    Any interested person listed in the petition can file an objection to the petition for temporary or permanent guardianship - Notice of Appearance (and Objection) (MPC 505a).

  2. Attend the hearing

    The Notice and Order will have a hearing date, and you'll need to attend that hearing.

    The minor child has the right to have a lawyer to represent them. The minor or someone acting on their behalf can ask the court to appoint a lawyer for them. If the minor or person acting on their behalf asks for a lawyer, the court must appoint an attorney. If the minor can't afford a lawyer, the court can order that the minor's lawyer be paid by the state.

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

    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
    • The requested appointment provides for the welfare and best interest of the child

    The court 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 isn't able to make a final determination at this hearing, a temporary decree of guardianship may be granted, and another court date will be scheduled.

More info   for File for guardianship of a minor

After you're named guardian of a minor, you'll be expected to act in the child’s best interest and exercise care, diligence, and prudence. Once a year, you'll need to file an annual report with the court called the Annual Report Form. You'll be responsible for filing the report — the court will not send you a reminder.

Contact   for File for guardianship of a minor

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