Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian over a child in New Jersey. This person has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, as long as the child is included in the decision-making process to the extent that they can be. A guardian is also responsible for making sure the child’s needs are met and that the child’s rights are not violated.
All of this being said, a guardian should only be appointed if it is absolutely necessary and the guardian’s powers should only be used to the extent that is necessary. Sometimes, guardianship is limited, in that the ward is still capable of making at least some decisions. If the ward is totally incapable of making decisions, then general guardianship might be the preferred choice.
There are a number of ways guardianship can be sought. First, a child’s relative or someone else close to the child can seek guardianship privately. This is done at that person’s expense. If a person is pursuing guardianship over the child’s property and person, then this is the sole way for a guardian to be appointed. Otherwise, the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities can assist a person in pursuing guardianship in court if guardianship is sought over the person only. If a person cannot be a guardian or does not want to be one, they may suggest another person who can serve as guardian or they can suggest that the Bureau of Guardianship Services serve as guardian over the child.
This is only a brief overview of how a guardian might be appointed to a child. In the end, it is important that the child’s needs — physically, mentally and emotionally — are met. If, for some reason, a parent is unable to meet those needs, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian over the child, so that the child can receive the care they need to grow and thrive in a healthy manner.