What an wonderful time it is when you find out you’re expecting! With all the excitement of planning for a new life, thinking about a situation where you’re unable to care for this child can be tough. As difficult as choosing a legal guardian is, it is well worth the effort—without a legal guardian in line to raise your child, the state will step in and name someone for you (and it may not be the person you would want). Because it’s such a big, new decision, we understand if you aren’t sure how to choose a guardian for your child. We’ll walk you through the process step by step.
How to Choose a Guardian for Your Child
1. Plan early.
Simply put: the earlier you begin the process, the easier it will be on both you and your partner. Start generating ideas while you’re still pregnant.
2. Consider how you want your child raised.
You and your partner have likely discussed how you’ll raise your child—how he or she will be disciplined, what values are most important to your family, what religion, if any, he/she will be brought into, and so forth. Think about the qualities you wish for your child to have as an adult and how you’ll get him or her there. This will help you begin thinking about who will raise your child the way you intend.
3. Rule out who you don’t want, and narrow down who you do want.
Once you have an idea of how you want your child to grow, it’s often easier to pick out individuals who clearly don’t fit those criteria. Maybe you’re close with your sister but have vastly different political views, or you’re worried your in-laws’ parenting is not in line with your ideal discipline. These are the people to discuss with your partner and mutually rule out early on. Doing this will help you narrow down your list of possibilities until you have someone in mind. And remember not to get too caught up in duty when thinking about these individuals—family members will not always be the best choice.
4. Discuss the role with the person.
Just as choosing a guardian is serious for you, becoming one is as well—the person you’re considering needs to know precisely what’s expected of them. This is another time to share your vision for who you want your child to grow into. You will also need to communicate openly and thoroughly about your finances. Discuss your life insurance, what kind of money would be left behind, and funding for the child’s education. Finances are often the biggest worry for potential guardians.
5. Make it legal.
Once you have your guardian, congratulations! The hard part is over. Now that your guardian has agreed to fill the role, you need to make it legally official—otherwise, your state government may not recognize the arrangement. Your family law attorney will walk you through this without you breaking a sweat at all.
Still unsure how to choose a guardian for your child without too much worry? We can help. When you’re ready to make this important decision for your family, please contact Replogle, Tyrrell, & Robertson. Our dedicated attorneys will walk you through the process step by step, using our experience and expertise to help you plan for the future. To get started, give us a call at 417-859-3979 (Marshfield office) or 417-893-5121 (Springfield office) or contact us online.