Guardianship of Child
These are usually granted either when the parent(s) are unable to care for the ward or, in the case of estates, when the ward inherits or receives assets.
Guardianships are not permanent and can always be terminated.
- Guardianships over minors always terminate automatically when the ward turns 18, even if guardianship is still necessary.
- If a guardian wishes to continue a guardianship after the ward reaches 18, the guardian must file for an adult guardianship, which can be started shortly before the ward turns 18.
Guardianship orders will replace existing custody orders.
- While the guardianship is in place, the guardian “steps into the shoes” of the parent and has custody, regardless of whether there was a custody order between the parents.
- While the guardianship is in place, the guardianship order is the controlling order, not any prior custody order.
- Once a guardianship is terminated, prior custody orders are automatically back in effect and all custody and/or visitation orders should be followed.
To file ex parte, the petitioner must have written consent from both parents.
The petitioner may also proceed with only one parent’s consent if:
- The father is truly unknown, meaning that paternity has never been established in a custody, support or other case, and no father is listed on the ward’s birth certificate (you must file the birth certificate to show this) OR
- If the consenting parent has sole legal and physical custody of the ward (you must file the custody order, even if order is from Nevada) OR
- The non-consenting parent’s parental rights have been terminated (you must filed the order terminating that parent’s rights) OR
- The non-consenting parent is deceased (you must file a death certificate) OR
- The ward was adopted by a single person (the adoption decree must be filed).
If both parents are deceased, guardianship can NOT be granted ex parte and a hearing must be held.
Consents must be in writing, notarized, and less than 6 months old at the time the case is filed.
If the minor ward is 14 years or older, the petitioner must file a consent from the ward.
If there is an open child welfare case before the juvenile court, the guardianship court will NOT grant guardianship without prior consent from the judge in the juvenile court.
Complete a Petition for Appointment of Guardianship. You can either have the parent(s) listed as co-petitioners OR simply attach the parent(s) consents to the petition.
See above for the examples of when an ex parte petition can contain only one parent’s consent.
The court will review ex parte petitions more carefully and all necessary information must be provided.
Petition should provide:
- Address, birthday, name of proposed guardian and ward;
- Relationship between the ward and proposed guardian;
- How long the ward has been with the guardian;
- Detailed explanation for why the guardianship is needed;
- State where the ward lives;
- Whether the ward is subject of a custody order and if so, from what state and when was the order issued;
- Whether CPS is currently involved with the ward (sometimes referred to as a “432B” investigation);
- If there is an open child welfare case before the juvenile court, the guardianship court will NOT grant guardianship without prior consent from the judge in the juvenile court.
- The petitioner will need to get juvenile court minutes to show that the court approves of the guardianship.
- Names and addresses of all second degree relatives which are:
- Siblings (includes half-siblings but NOT step-siblings)
- If a sibling is a minor, that child’s guardian must receive notice and be listed on the petition.
- If the ward has assets, a detailed description of the assets.
- Petitioner MUST state whether he/she has ever been convicted of a felony, been disbarred/suspended from a field involving management of money, or been convicted or plead guilty/no contest to abuse or neglect (even if the answer is no).
- If the ward is 14 years or older, the petition must also include a consent signed by the ward.
File the completed forms at your local court including the Petition, the parents’ consents, a Family Court Cover Sheet, and an Inventory Appraisal and Record of Value (only if seeking guardianship involves an estate).
- Filing fees vary by county but in some counties there is no filing fee for guardianships unless the proposed ward has an estate of $20,000 or more.
- When your guardianship involves an estate, if you are low income you can still apply for a fee waiver by completing and submitting a fee waiver packet, which can be obtained through your court’s self-help center.
- File a copy of the guardian’s identification and identification of the ward. Ward’s identification can be a school ID, a birth certificate, or a copy of the ward’s social security card.
- Separate consents from the parents do not need to be filed if the parents sign the Petition as co-petitioners.
- All consents must be notarized and less than 6 months old.
After filing the forms, submit the forms and a completed Order Appointing Guardian to the judge assigned to your case. NOTE: if filing in Clark County, the forms should be submitted to the Guardianship Department instead of the judge’s department.
- Once the guardianship order has been signed, it will have to be filed and the new guardians will have to appear at the clerk’s office to be sworn in.
- At the time of swearing-in, guardians will need to bring completed Letters of Guardianship.
The new guardian will need to mail a copy of the Order and a Notice of Entry of Order to all the second degree relatives (listed above).
- If guardianship involves an estate and a blocked account is required, the guardian must take the stamped Letters of Guardianship to the bank or credit union of the guardian’s choice to establish the blocked account.
- The guardian MUST file proof of the blocked account, which you can get from the bank when the time the account is opened.
- Do NOT forget to get a blocked account! Failure to do so can result in the court terminating/ending the guardianship!
Guardians MUST file a yearly Report of Guardian for all guardianships. When there is a guardianship of the estate, the guardian must also file an Annual Accounting unless the court grants “summary administration.”
Does not require consent from either parent but the petitioner must make sure that the parents receive notice of the petition.
Complete the Petition for Appointment of Guardian, providing the same information required for an ex parte petition.
File the documents with your court along with copies of the proposed guardian and ward’s identification, and a Citation to Appear, where the Clerk will fill-in the court date. In most counties there is no filing fee for filing a guardianship unless the proposed ward has an estate of $20,000 or more.
Serve all second degree relatives with a copy of the Petition and Citation to Appear. Relatives that must be served include:
- Parents MUST be served even if not involved with the child unless:
- Deceased (file the death certificate.)
- Parental rights have been terminated (file the order terminating rights.)
- One parent has sole legal and physical custody or the ward was adopted by a single party (file the order or adoption decree.)
- Father is truly unknown, no paternity established, and no father is on the birth certificate (file birth certificate)
- Adult siblings or the guardian of minor siblings (includes half-siblings.)
- If there are no surviving relatives to serve, the Public Guardian’s Office must be served.
Service can be completed by:
- Personal service at least 10 days before the hearing. Must file an Affidavit of Service from the third party serving.
- Certified mail sent at least 20 days before the hearing. Must file a copy of the certified mailing receipts and the return green card or it can be brought to the hearing.
- Service by publication but it must be approved by the court. If notice will be done by publication you should plan ahead! The hearing should be set at least two months in advance because it takes awhile to complete the publication.
- To request to serve a relative by publication, the petitioner must first try to send the documents to the relative at that person’s last known address via certified mail then the petitioner must file and submit to the judge the following:
- An Affidavit for Service by Publication stating the last known address, the date certified mailing was sent to the last known address, and the date the person was last known to reside there;
- An Affidavit of Due Diligence describing at least two things you did to try to locate the relative such as going to the DMV to check records or contacting power or water companies for records; then obtain
- A signed Order for Service by Publication.
- Publication must run for three consecutive weeks prior to the hearing and the final ad must run at least 10 days before the hearing.
- Multiple relatives can be noticed through a single publication but a separate Affidavit of Due Diligence will need to be submitted for each person.
- Once the Order for Service by Publication is signed by the judge, the order must be filed at the Clerk’s Office and taken (along with the Citation to Appear) to the newspaper to run the publication. You must pick a newspaper in the city where the relative was last known to live.
At the Hearing
- The ward MUST appear in court UNLESS the ward is 14 years or older and has signed a consent.
- If service to relatives was done by certified mail, petitioners will need to bring copies of certified mailing green cards.
- Petitioner will need to bring a completed Order Appointing Guardian for the Judge to sign and completed Letters of Guardianship for the Clerk to administer along with the guardian's oath.
- If the parents appear at the hearing to contest the guardianship or if another party objects or files their own petition for guardianship, a trial may be scheduled.
- If the case progresses to a trial, the petitioner will need to show that it is in the best interest of the ward for the petitioner to be appointed guardian.
- Nevada follows “the parental preference doctrine,” which means that courts prefer not to interfere with a parent’s right to raise their child.
- However, the court will expect the parents to have a stable residence, stable income or resources to provide for the ward, no drug or alcohol abuse, and no current criminal involvement.
- If the parent fights the guardianship and the court finds at trial that the guardianship is needed, the parent will have to prove that either his or her circumstances have materially changed AND that terminating guardianship would substantially enhance the child's life.
- This does NOT apply if the parent consents to the guardianship.
- If the guardianship is granted, the Order must be filed at the Clerk’s Office, the guardians are sworn in, and the Letters of Guardianship will be stamped.