NY Guardianship Law Lawyer

Because no two family law matters are the same, it is important to have the representation of a legal professional. There are family law attorneys that specialize in cases regarding parental rights, paternity tests, divorce and more. One of the stickiest parts of a divorce is figuring out custody and visitation matters. When you are attempting to establish guardianship parameters, it is important that you do so under the guidance of a New York lawyer.

Guardianship: Defined

Guardianship is the word used to name a legal arrangement in which a court grants a person the legal right to make decisions for another individual who is incapbable of making decisions for themselves.  The individual might be a child, an adult who is incapacitated or a person who is developmentally disabled.

In New York, guardianship cases are heard in the Family Court, Supreme Court or Surrogate’s Court, depending upon the type of guardianship being sought and the person over whom guardian would be appointed.

Guardianship Vocabulary

When there is a guardianship, one individual is given the legal authority to make a decision for another.

The Guardian. This is the one who is appointed by the court to have the legal right to make decisions for the other person. Anybody can make an application.  To be a guardian, you need to be over the age of 18.  You also need to be a legal resident or citizen of the United States. A person with a criminal record might not be appointed to serve as a guardian. A Judge will make the final ruling as to who can be the guardian.

The Ward. This is the individual for whom the Guardian is authorized to make decisions. A Ward might not have the cognitive or communicative capabilities to make well thought out decisions for themselves or have the capacity to give their informed consent for personal, medical, or financial matters. 

The Four Types of Guardianship in NY

In NY, a guardian can have guardianship over several different aspects of a ward’s life:

Guardian of the person. A guardian of the person is authorized to make life choices for the ward.  These choices can pertain tohealth care, education and welfare decisions.

Guardian of the property. A guardian of the property handles any decisions regarding the ward’s money, investments and savings as directed by a Judge. A guardian of the property is ordered to file an annual report about the ward’s property as part of his or her duty.

Guardian of the person and property. This type of guardian has the combined responsibility over both the ward’s life decision and the ward’s property.

Guardian ad litem. During a court case, a guardian ad litem gets assigned by a Judge to act on behalf of a person when they are not able to defend their rights or protect their own interests on their own.

Depending on who the Ward is and how much help that individual needs, a guardianship case is filed in Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, or Supreme Court.

On top of hiring a New York family law firm, you need to protect yourself and follow the tips in this guide:

  1. Prove your ability to provide guardianship


Your first step when dealing with a guardianship case is to prepare to explain your ability to have custody of your child. Whether you are seeking full custody, joint custody, split custody or any other custom arrangements, you will have to prove your ability to provide for your children. This will require you to assess your income levels and potential, health and mental standing and proximity to your child’s most basic needs.

Hiring a family law firm gives you the chance to go point by point with a lawyer who knows what will strengthen your petition and your case. They will assist you in putting together a favorable application and will represent you every step of the way in court or during mediation.

  1. Speak to the other parent to find common ground

Finding common ground with the other parent is essential if you want this process to be peaceful and productive. The case scenario is for both parents to have equal footing in terms of access to the child and making the decisions that are for the child’s growth and development.

When you begin negotiating with each other with the child in mind, you will find lots of opportunities to create your own agreement without needing to do so in front of the judge. Keep in mind that many New York law firms also provide mediation services for these cases so that you do not need to do so by yourself.

  1. Reach out to a family law firm that is skilled

When you need legal assistance, start reaching out to the professionals available. The Spodek Law Group Is the perfect example of a New York family law firm that handles these cases time and time again. This law firm has 50 years of experience and remains apprised of changes in family law in the state of New York. You get representation from a law firm that is skilled and affordable, you are protecting your interests in the long term and maintaining a solid relationship with your child with the backing of the court system.

Petitioning the Court for Guardianship of a Child

You can start a guardianship case by filing a “Petition for Appointment of Guardian” in the county where the child resides. This form can be filed either in Surrogate’s Court or the Family Court. The Surrogate’s Court and the Family Court are both empowered to assign a guardian of the person for a child. That said, if a child needs a guardian of the property also, then  Surrogate’s Court is where you file your petition. The Judge’s ruling is documented by way of a court order called “letters of guardianship”, in which he or she appoints someone who petitioned to be a guardian.  This order will detail the type of guardianship that has been awarded.

Before a legal guardian can be assigned to a child, both parents and any child who is over age 14 and is not mentally, physically or developmentally disabled must give their consent. By giving their consent, they are confirming that they understand what will happen if a legal guardian is appointed. The Court will consider the child’s preferences when ruling. In some circumstances, the Judge will appoint a guardian even if the parent or child refuses to give permission or they disagree with the guardianship.

If you start out by using these guidelines, you’ll stand a great chance of getting help for your family law situation. The tips in this article can serve you in not only understanding what to expect with guardianship arrangement cases, but also doing your part to find the assistance of a legal firm that is capable. Todd Spodek Is the head of a law firm with enough experience and a claim to represent you whenever you need assistance with legal guardianship of any sort.


Contact the law firm if you need any help at all with your case.