Perhaps you are currently facing some struggles that make it difficult for you to parent your child, and you need a friend or family member to help. Maybe you are acting as the primary caretaker for a child you love while his or her parents make some changes in their lives.

In either case, legal guardianship for a child may be the next best step for everyone involved.

In this article, learn more about guardianship for minors in Missouri and Kansas — and how attorney Kevin Kenney can help you do what is right for the child in your life.

What is Legal Guardianship for a Child?

Guardianship of a child in Kansas or Missouri is not a permanent legal separation between parents and their children. Instead, it’s a way for a child to receive the care and support they need during a trying time in their legal parent’s life.

Legal guardianship doesn’t just apply to minors; adults can be placed under legal guardianships, too. Often, this is in situations where the adult subject to the guardianship may — due to factors like age, illness, or disability — require someone else to step in and manage their personal and financial affairs. For more information on adult guardianship or conservatorship, please contact Kevin Kenney’s offices at 913-671-8008.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about child guardianship in Kansas or Missouri, you’ve come to the right place. Attorney Kevin Kenney and his team are dedicated to advancing the best interests of children across the KC metro area, and they can always guide you through obtaining or changing legal guardianship of a minor, if necessary.

If you are curious about obtaining or taking legal guardianship of a child, know there are typically two ways this can be accomplished:

Temporary Legal Guardianship of a Child:

In most cases, legal guardianship of a minor is a temporary action. It’s often used in situations where a parent is currently unable to care for their child and needs to place them in the custody of a close friend or family member. This friend or relative can step in to petition the court for legal custody of the child, to make caring for the child easier. At the time when the legal parent is ready to provide a safe and stable home again, the child guardianship in Missouri or Kansas can be easily reversed.

Permanent Legal Guardianship of a Child:

A permanent guardianship for a minor in Missouri or Kansas is less common, but it is another option for caretakers. While a temporary guardianship is intended for a short period of time (usually a few months), a permanent guardianship is often used for the long-term stability of a child.

Exactly how long a permanent legal guardianship of a child lasts will be up to the guardian, the natural parent, and their attorneys. But many of these legal cases last until a child becomes a legal adult at age 18.

While a permanent guardianship does not terminate parental rights, it does make it difficult for the legal parent to get back custody of their child. That’s why it’s important for all parties to be fully informed about this process before pursuing it in Kansas or Missouri.

Is Changing the Legal Guardianship of a Minor the Same as Adoption?

No. Getting legal guardianship of a child does not mean you have adopted that child.

Whereas adoption terminates the biological parents’ rights to the child and establishes new legal parents for the child, guardianship leaves the biological parents’ rights intact, and the parents maintain the legal connection to their child. Adoptions are permanent, while guardianships are often temporary. This means that the child’s parents can petition the court to terminate the guardianship when they feel they are ready to parent again.

For this reason, temporary or permanent guardianship is often preferred among family members and loved ones who have an existing co-parenting or childcare agreement in place.

What are the Benefits of a Child Guardianship in Kansas or Missouri?

Many parents and loved ones of a child worry that changing the legal guardianship of a minor can cause more harm than good. But, in our work with Kansas and Missouri families, we’ve found the opposite to be true.

When properly and ethically completed, a change in the legal guardianship of a child can make all parties involved much happier — especially the minor at the center of it.

Here are a few reasons to consider a legal guardianship for a child:

  • Stability for the child: The primary benefit of a legal guardianship is for the child. Rather than potentially staying with a parent who is not currently in a position to parent them properly, or being placed in the foster care system, a guardianship allows the child to stay with a stable relative who loves them and is ready to give them the care that they need.
  • Legal rights for the guardian: Under a guardianship, the designated legal custodian is awarded all of the legal rights and responsibilities that a natural parent would have to their child. This means that the guardian can take the child to the doctor, receive medical records, include the child on their health insurance, enroll them in school, and more.
  • Temporary solution for parents: Guardianships allow the child’s parents time to improve their situation and prepare to take over parenting when they are ready. This is often a voluntary, temporary solution for struggling parents who wish to keep their parental rights intact.

Legal Guardianship for a Child in Kansas City

If you are considering applying for legal guardianship of a child you care about, the first step in the process is to contact attorney Kevin Kenney. It is important to work with an experienced attorney throughout this process to ensure you are complying with all state laws and completing the necessary steps based on your individual circumstances.

Kevin Kenney has completed hundreds of child guardianships in Kansas and Missouri and is very familiar with the laws and procedures necessary to establish a legal guardianship in each of these states. He can help you complete all steps of the legal guardianship process, from filing the petition with the court, to completing the necessary legal paperwork, to extending or terminating the guardianship and more.

To discuss your individual circumstances and your options for getting guardianship of a child in Missouri or Kansas, please contact Kevin today to schedule a consultation.