Florida Custody by Extended Family Member vs. Guardianship

What is the best fit for a child in your family?

There are numerous similarities between Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member and Guardianship, but there are differences, as well.  Understanding the differences can be critical in deciding which one fits your situation the best.

What is Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member?

Chapter 751 of the Florida Statutes speaks to Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member.  An extended family member is an individual that is related to a child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent.  This chapter presumes that for a temporary period of time, the child will have a family member that will exercise parental rights.  This can be done by temporarily granting custody to an extended family member instead of a child’s parents or granting joint custody between a child’s parent(s) in addition to a an extended family member.  Examples of situations where custody by extended family member might be a good fit is where a child must travel to another city to attend school or receive medical care where an extended family member lives and is in the best position to look after that child in a similar manner to a parent.  An extended family member is granted the right to authorize medical care, schooling, and serve to act as a parent in most other situations.  The extended family member must have had at least 30 days of contact with the child over the prior 12 months to qualify.  There are cases where the parents of a child are unfit to parent and that may be where an extended family member steps in to fill the parental shoes for the child.  The author believes that courts are liberal in granting Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member and there are relatively few qualifications.  The parents of a child are notified when someone petitions the court for Temporary Custody be Extended Family Member and they are invited to object or consent to the petition.  Frequently, the parents are involved in the petition and consent to it.  A recent situation that the author dealt with involved a parent who was in drug rehab at the time the petition was filed and the other parent was deceased.  The parent in rehab consented to the appointment of the extended family member and may petition the court to terminate the temporary custody when he or she is fit and ready to resume parneting.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is similar to Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member in some ways.  However, you do not need to be a relative to apply for guardianship of a minor.  Someone who serves as a guardian must meet the qualifications of Florida law.  The individual must have a criminal background check.  A felon cannot be appointed as a guardian.  A proposed guardian is required to provide a credit report and must be fingerprinted.  Being appointed as a guardian does not terminate parental rights.  A guardian must take a course to understand his or her responsibilities as a guardian.  This course is usually available online.  Unlike Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member which is presumed to be ordered on a temporary basis, a guardianship usually continues until the child is no longer a minor or no longer has an infirmity.  A child that receives more than $15,000 (typically as an inheritance) must have a guardian.  The guardian is responsible for managing a child’s funds and must account for them to the court.  There are cases where one can be granted guardianship over an adult, as well.  Guardianship of an adult will be covered in a different blog.  Where a child has no infirmities other than his or her youth, a guardianship normally terminates when the child becomes an adult at age 18 and then he or she can manage his or her own funds.  The guardianship of a child or an adult that has disabilities can be either a plenary guardianship or a limited guardianship.  A plenary guardianship is where a guardian makes all the decision for the ward.  Whereas a limited guardianship is where the ward is permitted to make life decisions that the court judges the ward capable of making.

Contact an Experienced Guardian and Family Law Attorney

If you are attempting to decide what fits your family’s situation best, you should seek an attorney experienced in guardianship and custody law.  The attorneys at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC are experienced in these fields and they can help you decide what is legally right for you or your child. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, Call (904) 685-1200 today. Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, 4115 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, Florida 32207.

About the author

Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing law for over 18 years in North Florida.  Mr. Weinreb received the highest possible rating from Martindale Hubbell, AV Pre-eminent.  Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida and regularly handles guardianship and family law matters.  Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can contact Mr. Weinreb at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation.








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