If you are concerned about the health, safety or welfare of a child in your family or a person who cannot care for themselves, you should speak with the lawyers at Kormanik & Sneed LLP about pursuing a guardianship. A guardianship is a court-ordered and supervised relationship made between the person seeking the guardianship and the person sought to be protected, often called the "ward." The guardianship process allows for concerned family members to bring a legal action for the protection and well-being of an at-risk family member, the ward. Most often, this family member is a child, but may also be an adult who is incapable of self-care for various reasons.

Idaho law allows a guardianship to be ordered for a minor child in those cases where the parents of the minor have abused, neglected or abandoned the child, or where the parents are incapable of providing the child a stable home environment-for example, if both parents abuse alcohol and/or illicit drugs to the point they cannot care for the child. Once the case is filed, the court will typically appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the ward in the proceedings. The guardian ad litem will assess the circumstances surrounding the guardianship petition by speaking with the party seeking the guardianship, interviewing the child's parents (if applicable) and speaking with other parties with knowledge of the situation. The guardian ad litem then will periodically report his or her findings and opinions to the court about the need for a guardianship and whether the party seeking the guardianship is suitable to serve in that capacity.

The guardianship process can take several months. However, if you have custody and control of the ward at the time you file your guardianship petition, you may seek an immediate temporary guardianship. In order to secure an immediate temporary guardianship, you must be able to demonstrate to the court that it is necessary in order to protect the ward's health, safety and/or welfare, and that without a temporary appointment the ward may suffer substantial and irreparable harm. A temporary guardianship that fits this criteria can be ordered without notice to anyone or the need for a hearing, especially when there is substantial risk the ward will be immediately and substantially harmed before notice can be given and a hearing can be held. A temporary guardianship lasts for six (6) months, or until the full guardianship petition can be heard.

Assuming you become a court-appointed guardian, you will be legally responsible for caring for the ward, including providing a suitable place to live, regular and necessary medical care, schooling (if applicable), food and clothing. The guardianship may last a short period of time or it may last several years. In order for the person who lost custody and control of the ward to set aside the guardianship and resume taking care of the ward, the person must petition the court and present evidence demonstrating to the court's satisfaction that he or she has completely remedied the circumstances that led to the guardianship being ordered, i.e., they are now capable of and willing to provide suitable care and supervision to the ward.

If you are concerned for the health, safety or well-being of a family member that needs protection (and you are willing to take on the responsibility of serving as that person's guardian), please contact the lawyers at Kormanik & Sneed LLP to help you determine how to best proceed.