NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS ASKING FOR
GUARDIANSHIP FOR A MINOR
PLEASE READ THIS PACKET BEFORE PROCEEDING
Your petition will NOT be accepted if it is not completed properly. There is a $175.00 filing fee at the time of filing.
As the petitioner (the person asking for guardianship), it is your duty by law to:
– serve a copy of the petition on all interested persons
– serve a copy of the notice of the hearing on all interested persons
MINOR GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDINGS
The information in this packet is not intended to be legal advice. It is a brief explanation of the basic procedure that is required to obtain a guardianship for a minor and is not meant to teach you the law.
You are not required to have an attorney; however, the court cannot act as your attorney. If you do not understand these instructions or the process, you will need to obtain other assistance.
Probate Court personnel cannot give legal advice about your particular situation or complete your forms for you.
The information contained here is the ONLY information court personnel can give you about this procedure.
TYPES OF GUARDIANSHIPS
There are two types of guardianships for minors, full guardianship and limited guardianship. Both petition forms are included in this packet. Only the parent can file a petition for limited guardianship. A petition for full guardianship can be filed by any interested person or by the minor if he/she is 14 years old or older.
For this type of guardianship, one of the following situations must have occurred:
– if parental rights of both parents or the surviving parent have been terminated or suspended by the parent’s death, disappearance, or confinement in jail or other place of detention.
– if a court has suspended or terminated the parent’s rights after finding the parent(s) to be mentally incompetent.
– if the parent(s) have permitted the minor to reside with another person and have not provided the other person with legal authority for the care and maintenance of the minor
A full guardianship has almost the same power and authority as a parent of the minor. A full guardian can make decisions about where the child will live and go to school and what medical procedures are in the child’s best interest. The guardian can give consent to the marriage of the minor and, with the permission of the court, the full guardian can consent to the adoption of the minor.
The court may, at any time, for the welfare of the minor, order reasonable visitation and contact of the minor ward by his or her parent(s).
Only the custodial parent(s) of the minor can file a petition for limited guardianship. The parents, or the parent with legal custody, must sign the petition and voluntarily consent to the guardianship and the suspension of his/her parental rights.
The court must approve a limited guardianship placement plan agreed to by the parents with custody of the minor or, in the case of only one parent having custody of the minor, the sole parent who has custody and the person(s) who the court will appoint as limited guardian of the minor. A blank Limited Guardianship Placement Plan is attached and must be submitted to the court at the time the petition is filed.
A limited guardianship placement plan that has been approved by the court may be modified upon agreement of the parties and must be filed with the court.
A limited guardian has the same power and authority as a full guardian except he/she cannot give consent for the marriage or adoption of the minor.
PROBATE COURT INVOLVEMENT
The Probate Court will be involved in the appointment of a guardian and will investigate all minor guardianships annually where the child is under six years of age, or any guardianship at any other time the court deems necessary. However, Probate Court staff or guardianship reviewers are not caseworkers. If assistance, family counseling, or a caseworker is necessary you will need to contact other agencies.
HOW TO BECOME A GUARDIAN – THE PETITION
To become a guardian you must first file a Petition for Appointment of a Guardian of Minor, or the custodial parent(s) must file a Petition for Appointment of Limited Guardian of Minor. Blank forms are included in this packet. There is a $150.00 filing fee that must be paid at the time the petition is filed. The child who needs a guardian must be residing in Ionia County at the time the petition is filed. An acknowledgement of paternity (if applicable) and the child support/custody order (if applicable) need to be included with the petition.
MINOR GUARDIANSHIP SOCIAL HISTORY
A minor guardianship social history (included in this packet) needs to be completed by the proposed guardian and filed with the court at the time the petition is filed. This needs to be completed in both the Limited and the Full Guardianships.
Michigan Court Rule (MCR 2.004) imposes certain responsibilities on a person seeking an order that impacts minor children when a parent is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections.
To meet your obligations under MCR 2.004 you must complete the following steps BEFORE filing your pleadings:
1. Contact the Michigan Department of Corrections either via web page at www.state.mi/mdoc/asp/aboutotis2.asp or by calling them at 1-5-17-373-0284 to obtain the parent’s inmate number and facility where located.
2. Complete the enclosed Petition for Order Allowing Participation of Incarcerated Party in Court Proceedings and file it with the court along with your Petition for Guardianship.
SCHEDULING THE HEARING
After the petition is properly completed, file it with the Probate Court. A hearing will be scheduled. The hearing will take place approximately 3-6 weeks after the petition is filed. The person who signed the petition and/or the proposed guardian will need to be at the hearing to give testimony why the guardianship is necessary.
NOTICE OF HEARING
The notice of hearing tells the interested persons where and when the hearing will take place. After the court gives you a date and time for the hearing, you must give a copy of the notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition to the people who have a right to know about the matter. These people include:
1. The minor, if he/she is 14 years of age or older, must be served personally at least seven days before the hearing.
2. Each person who had principal care and custody of the minor during the 63 days before the petition was filed.
3. The parents of the minor.
– If the parent(s) cannot be found, you MUST publish notice of the hearing. See instruction below for publication
– The biological father of a child born out of wedlock need not be served notice of the proceedings unless paternity has been determined.
4. If neither parent is living or they cannot be located, notice must be given to the nearest relatives of the minor.
5. The Attorney General, if the minor has no known presumptive heirs.
6. The nominated guardian, if someone other than the petitioner.
7. Any conservator or guardian ad litem for the minor.
8. Any attorney who has filed an appearance.
9. A special fiduciary for the minor.
10. A person who has filed a Request for Notice.
11. In special circumstance other persons are also entitled to notice. For example, the Department of Human Services/Child Protective Services must have notice if there is any current involvement, and the administrator of Veterans’ Affairs if the minor is receiving benefits payable by the Veterans’ Administration.
If the address of an interested party is unknown, the petitioner must publish a Publication of Notice of Hearing (PC563) in an Ionia County newspaper such as the Ionia Sentinel Standard. The newspaper has to be published and circulated in Ionia County. Please call the court if you are unsure if the newspaper you want to use qualifies as a “legal publication” for Ionia County.
NOTICE MUST BE PUBLISHED AT LEAST 14 DAYS BEFORE THE HEARING. The petitioner must pay the newspaper for this publication in order for the notice to be published in the paper. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to ensure that the newspaper sends an Affidavit of Publication to the court prior to the hearing.
PROOF OF SERVICE
The petitioner must make enough copies of the completed Petition and Notice of Hearing to serve all of the persons entitled to notice before filing the originals with the Probate Court.
The Proof of Service will be examined by the court to ensure that all persons were properly served at least 14 days prior to the hearing date and that the minor, age 14 or older, was personally served at least 7 days prior to the hearing.
If the Proof of Service is not filed prior to the hearing, or if everyone did not receive proper service, the court may adjourn the hearing to a later date.
FAILURE TO SERVE INTERESTED PARTIES AS REQUIRED WILL RESULT IN CANCELLATION / ADJOURNMENT OF YOUR HEARING.
A NEW HEARING WILL BE SET. IF PROPER SERVICE IS NOT GIVEN FOR THE SECOND HEARING, YOUR PETITION MAY BE DISMISSED.
Although it is not required by the court, an interested person may waive notice of hearing and consent to the petition, if they wish to do so, with this form.
At the hearing, if the judge is convinced that the proper procedure has been followed and sufficient evidence has been presented, an Order Regarding Appointment of Guardian/Limited Guardian of a Minor will be granted. The request for guardianship may also be denied at this hearing if sufficient evidence is not presented.
If the order is granted, the court will then issue the Letters of Guardianship. The Letters of Guardianship prove that a guardian has been appointed and he/she has authority to act in place of the minor’s parent. You will be given one certified copy of the Letters of Guardianship after the hearing. Should you need any further copies, there is a fee of $11.00 for each copy.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A GUARDIAN
As either a full or limited guardian you must file a report every year for each minor under guardianship in your care. The form for this is the Annual Report of Guardian on Condition of Minor (PC654). If you move while the guardianship is in effect, you must inform the court of your new address.
THE MINOR MUST RESIDE WITH THE GUARDIAN UNTIL THE FURTHER ORDER OF THE COURT.
TEMPORARY GUARDIANSHIP (emergency)
If there is an emergency and the minor needs immediate medical care, an emergency hearing can be scheduled pending the hearing for the regular appointment.