There are times when someone other than a child’s mother or father must step in to care for him or her. This is called guardianship or sometimes custodianship. It may even be termed in loco parentis, which is Latin for standing in place of the parents. These concepts have different meanings under Arizona family law, and it is important to understand the distinctions. Regardless, such proceedings can be complex. That’s why it is important have a Chandler guardianship lawyer on your side every step of the way, no matter whether you are a parent facing this situation or a non-parent wanting to gain custody of one of more children.
Definition of guardianship or custodianship
Guardianship or custodianship usually arises when neither legal parent, whether biological or adoptive, is able to adequately provide “care, custody and control” of a child. The parents may be incarcerated, on drugs, in rehabilitation, or otherwise unwilling to parent. Sometimes parenting abilities are not even an issue. The parents may both be deceased or, because of circumstances beyond their control, may not be able to care for the child or children for a certain period of time for reasons such as military service, disability, illness, or caring for a sick relative who lives out of state.
The process may begin when a concerned bystander calls the police or Child Protective Services (CPS), an arm of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), to report alleged neglect or abuse of a child by one or both parents. Other times the parents refer themselves, admitting that they cannot properly care for the child. If an investigation substantiates the allegations, the court temporarily takes over legal custody and ADES physically places the child with a relative, friend, or foster parents, or in a group home.