Guardianship of a Child

This section explains who can become legal guardian of a child under the Kinship Guardianship Act, and what conditions must be in place in order for a judge to appoint a person as kinship guardian of a child.

What does “legal guardianship” mean?
Legal guardianship suspends the rights of a child’s parents and transfers most of those rights to the legal guardian.

How long does legal guardianship of a child last?
If the judge appoints you as temporary legal guardian of a child the guardianship will remain in effect for six months. If you are appointed as the child’s legal guardian and the order does not state that the guardianship is temporary, the guardianship will last until the child turns 18 or until a judge revokes the guardianship.

How do I go about getting legal guardianship of a child who is living with me?
To become the legal guardian of a child whose parents are not deceased you must file a Petition for Kinship Guardianship in the district court where you and the child live. For more detailed information about the legal process call the Guardianship Legal Helpline: in the Albuquerque area call (505) 217-1660; Statewide call 1-800-980-1165.

If the child’s parents consent to the guardianship do I still have to file a petition with the court?
Yes. In order to be appointed as the legal guardian of a child you must file a petition with the court. If the child’s parents agree you can have them sign a consent form and file it with the court, but you must still go through the court proceeding become the child’s legal guardian.

Can I still be appointed as kinship guardian of my grandchild even if the parents do not agree?
Yes, under certain conditions you can be appointed kinship guardian of a child even if the child’s parents do not agree. Those conditions are:
The child has been living with you for at least 90 days AND
The parent who objects to the guardianship has not lived in the home with you during that time AND
You are able to prove to the judge that the parent is unable or unwilling to provide proper care for the child AND
It is in the child’s best interests that you be appointed as her kinship guardian.

Can I be appointed as kinship guardian of a child even if I am not related to her by blood?
Yes. To qualify to be the kinship guardian of a child you must have a close bond with the child, but you do not need to be related by blood.

How do I go about revoking the guardianship?
If you and the parent or parents agree that it is time to revoke the guardianship you can file a motion with the court asking to have the guardianship revoked. The judge will most likely want you to appear in court to explain why revocation of the guardianship is in the child’s best interests.

What can I do to keep my grandchild safe if she is in danger now?
If you believe that your grandchild is at risk of abuse and/or neglect you should call the police or child protective services. The process of getting legal guardianship of a child usually takes at least 90 days. Under certain circumstances you may be able to file for guardianship on an emergency basis. Call the Guardianship Legal Helpline: in the Albuquerque area call (505) 217-1660; Statewide call 1-800-980-1165.

Can I file for guardianship myself or do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to apply for guardianship. You can go to your local district court and ask for the forms to file for kinship guardianship of a child, or you can call the Guardianship Legal Helpline. The Guardianship Legal Helpline can help you determine if you want to file by yourself, and if you do, help you with questions and the paperwork. In the Albuquerque area call (505) 217-1660, Statewide call 1-800-980-1165.

Is there help for me if I need help but can’t afford a lawyer?
Yes. There are two agencies in New Mexico that specialize in helping grandparents and others get kinship guardianship of children living with them. Pegasus Legal Services for Children provides legal representation in guardianship cases where one or more of the parents does not agree to the guardianship. Another agency, Advocacy, Inc. handles cases where the parents agree to the guardianship. Call the Guardianship Legal Helpline to get more information and find out which agency is the right one to help you. In the Albuquerque area call (505) 217-1660; Statewide call 1-800-980-1165.

What is the Guardianship Legal Helpline?
The Guardianship Legal Helpline is a collaboration of Pegasus Legal Services for Children and Law Access New Mexico. The Guardianship Legal Helpline provides information, advice, help with self-representation, and referrals for extended legal representation. The Guardianship Legal Helpline conducts intake for Pegasus’s Kinship Guardianship Program.

Resources:

Guardianship Legal Helpline: Albuquerque area – (505) 217-1660; Statewide – 1-800-980-1165.

DISCLAIMER: This website is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website shall be construed as legal advice nor does the information provided constitute the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. We take no responsibility for errors.