Choosing A Guardian For A Minor Child

September 26, 2014
By Edward H. “Ted” Miller, Esq.
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           Parents should consider many factors when deciding who should serve as guardian of their minor child.  A minor child’s upbringing can be dramatically altered if both parents die without a proper guardianship plan in place.  Common factors to consider when planning for a child’s guardianship are the potential guardian’s parenting abilities, geographic location, family obligations, and financial stability.
Parenting Abilities
           Those who have previously served as parents have instincts and patience that others do not possess.  From managing a child’s schedule to basic discipline, many individuals believe that parenting can only be learned through experience.  Thus, many people determine that family members who have previously raised children would serve as diligent guardians.
Family Responsibilities
           A spouse can have a major influence on an individual’s ability to serve as guardian.  If a potential guardian’s spouse struggles with substance abuse, an unstable career, or other personal challenges, these factors may play a large role in a family’s stability and overall well-being.  One must also consider the children of a potential guardian.  Do they get along with the child who would be living in the same residence?  Sometimes children passionately dislike sharing their parents with a new family member.
Geographic Location
           While many children are surprisingly good at relocating to a new area, moving can have a significant social impact in a child’s life.  Moreover, a child will likely lose contact with his or her coaches, neighbors, and other mentors if forced to move. Every city or town has a culture, and minor children are especially susceptible to culture shock.
Financial Stability
           Does the guardian have the ability to provide for the minor child?  While hopefully the deceased parents’ estates would be able to cover the costs of raising a child, this is often not the case.  Would the potential guardian be able to care for the minor child if forced to carry part or all of the financial burden of raising the child?  It is important for parents to discuss this topic with a potential guardian.
            Parents should contact a potential guardian to ensure he or she wants to serve.  It is also critically important for parents to discuss parenting styles and any specific needs their child may face in school or at home.  These conversations can be uncomfortable, as an honest evaluation of a child’s strengths and weaknesses can be humbling to parents.  However, such information may be lost if not communicated to a potential guardian.  After carefully reviewing potential options, parents should include their decision as to who should serve as guardian in their Wills.

ask kitkatPuppy Mill Rescue

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, why do people mistreat dogs and breed so many in unfit conditions?
Kit Kat: I wish I had the answer to that one, but thank goodness there are agencies like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that can come to the rescue. Here’s what happened in Bradley County, Tennessee. 101 dogs were rescued because of horrible treatment just this past June. The temperature in the barn where they were kept was close to 100 degrees. 70 dogs were in wire cages or airline crates; others were roaming the grounds. The dogs had fleas, worms, and overgrown toenails which can get caught in wire cages. What’s more the owner of this horror had experimented with cross-breeding to make smaller dogs called “pocket” breeds. So, according to Tia Pope of the local HSUS, “It looked like she’d mixed a pug with a beagle to make it even smaller and maybe even a pug with a Rottweiler.” The result were strange looking dogs, but cute nonetheless. The abuse came to the attention of a local sheriff who was responding to a domestic dispute. Help sometimes comes about in unusual ways!
Anyway, it’s nice to report that all of the dogs were removed from the premises and are residing in much nicer surroundings. They were distributed among HSUS partners in Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts. One of the dogs, a blind and deaf pocket boxer named “Hooray, ” is now jumping for joy because she can now run and jump freely. It’s great that so many were rescued in time!
(Ruthanne Johnson, “To the Rescue,” All Animals. September/October 2014, p.6)
Upcoming Events

  • October 2, 2014 –  Andrew H. Hook will appear on WAVY-TV 10′s “The Hampton Roads Show” at 11 a.m. EDT with Debbie Schwartz of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia to discuss the upcoming Art of Healthy Aging Forum and Expo on November 1, 2014.
  • October 7, 2014 – Hook Law Center is sponsoring Senior Advocate’s Active Aging Series at Westminster Canterbury, 3100 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach  VA  23451.   HLC Attorney Jessica A. Hayes will provide an overview of Hook Law Center’s Practice Areas at this meeting which begins at 10:00 am. To RSVP, please call Westminster Canterbury at 757-645-6364. RSVP responses will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For a list of speakers, please click here.  Each session includes a complimentary lunch. We look forward to seeing you there!
  • October 10, 2014 –  Andrew Hook will speak on Elder Law to the Portsmouth Task Force at Churchland House in Portsmouth, VA.
  • October 16 – 17, 2014 –  Andrew Hook and Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be attending the 2014 Special Needs Alliance Conference in St. Petersburg, FL.
  • October 23, 2014 – Andrew Hook will speak on The Top Issues Every Practitioner Needs to Know How to Spot Related to Elder Law to the Virginia Beach Bar Association.
  • October 29, 2014 – Hook Law Center will be represented at the Virginia Beach 2014 Senior Showcase at the Princess Anne Recreation Center, 1400 Nimmo Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  This event is free and open to the public.

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