Topics on this page
- Guardianship of a Minor
- Types of Guardians
- Interested Person
- Court Process
- Training and Reporting Requirements
Guardianship of a Minor
Guardianship is a legal process where the court appoints a person to manage a minor’s personal affairs (non-financial decisions), financial affairs, or both. The court can appoint one person to manage the minor’s personal affairs and another person to manage the minor’s financial affairs. The court can also appoint two people as co-guardians to share the guardianship responsibilities. The court is the ultimate guardian and will monitor the guardianship.
Read the Rules: Md. Rules, Title 10
Some people think about guardianship as a subset of custody, specifically considering guardianship to be a less intrusive alternative to custody for accomplishing certain purposes. Be aware, however, that custody and guardianship are two different legal processes, with different responsibilities, procedures, and rights. If you are not sure which option is best for your situation, talk to an attorney.
Types of Guardians
Guardian of the Person – A guardian of the person takes care of the minor’s personal and physical needs. This includes providing for everyday needs, such as food, clothing, housing (e.g., where does the minor live), education (e.g., where does the minor go to school), health (e.g., consent to medical care and medical decisions), and social decisions (e.g., fostering and preserving family relationships). This can also include arranging for services and care for the minor (e.g., home health aide). The guardian of the person advocates for the minor and acts in the minor’s best interests. The court order will have specific information about the guardian’s responsibilities and powers.
Guardian of the Property – A guardian of the property manages the minor’s financial affairs and makes financial decisions that are in the minor’s best interests. Examples of financial decisions include collecting income, applying for benefits, managing property, and paying bills. The court order will have specific information about the guardian’s responsibilities and powers.
Guardian of the Person and the Property – The court can appoint one person to manage both the personal and financial affairs of the minor.
Note: A minor who is 14 years old and older may choose their guardian. The court may choose a different guardian if it finds that appointment of the minor's choice of guardian is not in the child's best interest.
Only “interested persons,” as defined by Maryland law, can petition for guardianship of a minor. In addition, interested persons, even if they are not appointed as guardian of the minor, can ask the court to address problems with the guardianship. Also, interested persons must be notified about certain guardianship events. This notification requirement can be waived.
To obtain guardianship over a minor child, you should file a petition for guardianship in the name of the minor child. Guardianship forms and instructions can be found on the Maryland Courts website.
The procedure to obtain guardianship of a minor child is essentially the same as the procedure to obtain guardianship of an alleged disabled person. Learn more about the process of obtaining adult guardianship.
However, there are some differences between the process and procedures for guardianship of a minor versus an alleged disabled adult. Below are some examples. This is not a complete list. You should review the Maryland Rules, which are the rules of procedure you must follow for the guardianship proceeding. Read the Rules very carefully.
- Consent of Parents – If possible, consent of each parent must be obtained. If the parent’s consent cannot be obtained because you are unable to contact, locate, or identify the parent, then you must file an affidavit with the court that describes your attempts to contact, locate, or identify the parents.
- Multiple Persons - Generally, a separate petition must be filed for each minor. However, a petition may include a request for guardianship of two or more similarly situated full siblings. Note that there would be a separate guardianship order for each sibling.
- Form of Petition – The form of petition for guardianship of the minor is different than the form or petition for guardianship of an alleged disabled adult.
Training and Reporting Requirements
There are orientation requirements. Prospective guardians must watch this video on the Maryland Courts website. After watching the entire video, you will need to complete a certificate of completion and file it with the court. More information, including a link to the certificate form, is available on the Maryland Courts website.
Once you have been appointed the guardian of the person and/or the guardian of the property of a minor, you must complete a training program. This program may be offered in-person or offered online. Contact the court that appointed you as guardian for information about the training requirement.
In addition to training requirements, you have ongoing reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For example, guardians of the property must file an initial inventory with the court, within 60 days of appointment, that lists all of the assets and income in the guardianship estate at the time you were appointed and an annual Fiduciary's Account. Guardians of the person must also file annual reports with the court.
Read your guardianship order very carefully. Extensive information about your ongoing training and reporting requirements is available on the Maryland Courts website.