Legal Issues: Guardianship, Adoption, Foster Care
Chances are the placement of your relative's child with you started out as an informal arrangement. In the eyes of the law, the parent is still in charge. You have neither legal rights nor a legal parental relationship to the child.
Some relative caregivers find it difficult to raise their child without some legal rights or a formal legal relationship. For instance, you may have problems enrolling the child in school, obtaining medical care, or you may worry that an unfit parent may come and take the child away. Also financial help, including access to medical insurance, may be a problem.
You also may be confused about the various ways to make this relationship more established and the benefits and risks that might be involved with each approach. This chapter provides an overview of the various ways to make an informal relationship (physical custody only) more formal (guardianship, foster kinship care or adoption) and should help answer some of your questions.
Changing your legal relationship is a big decision, and some options are not easily reversed. You should consult with an attorney so you are well informed of the legal options available to you and what these changes will mean for you and your child. If money to pay for an attorney is an issue, you can start with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. They offer a free guardianship class that provides excellent information and once you have completed the class, you may have access to a lawyer. More information is provided under Legal Resources.
Children thrive in stable, permanent and caring families, and research shows that the best families for children are those that are related. If it is your intention to provide a home for the child until he or she is an adult, you may want to consider adoption or legal guardianship. The following links will provide you information on these legal issues:
- Information on possible adoption subsidies
- Assistance on legal guardianship paperwork through the Family Court Self Help Center
- Information on what it takes to qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid
- Explanation of Non-Needy Relative Caretaker assistance for families that do not qualify for federal assistance
- Help understanding and gaining temporary guardianship through Legal Aid of Southern Nevada, and the forms you can file with Family Courts.
- Department of Family Services, which may be involved and handles all foster care licensing.
- Information on how to find a lawyer through State Bar of Nevada's Lawyer Referral Program or Nevada Legal Services
- Contact info for Child Protective Services and how that agency might be involved in your case. Also information on how to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
- Information on the Court Appointed Special Advocates, who are assigned to represent the children's interest in child abuse and neglect cases.
- A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System
- Nevada Child Abuse Prevention Brochure