Adult vs. Child Guardianship

When you think about legal guardianships, you likely imagine a child whose parents passed away in an accident or even a devastating house fire.

A grandparent, close family friend, or neighbor steps up and fills their biological parents’ shoes.

Of course, everyone lives happily ever after!

However, children aren’t the only ones needing guardianships.

And, if you think anyone can be a guardian with a signed form and a heartfelt court appearance, you might be watching too many movies.

Learn more about adult and child guardianships in Nevada below.

What Is a Guardianship?

If you’ve ever filled out a form at a doctor’s office or for an upcoming school trip, you probably signed a line labeled “Parent or Guardian” signature.

That circles back to legal guardianships!

A guardian is a court-appointed person who takes on a caretaker role for somebody who cannot do it themselves, whether that’s due to age (under 18), disability, or incompetency.

If a Nevada family court judge approves your petition for guardianship, you must:

  • Provide shelter, clothes, food, and daily necessities
  • Give them access to medical care (dental, psychiatric, surgical, and otherwise)
  • Guarantee they have access to education, a trade program, or career
  • Take care of their assets and estate (if applicable)
  • Make decisions in their best interest (medical, financial, etc.)

Guardians also have to follow strict rules.

For example, you can’t sell the protected person’s belongings, use their monthly budget for your personal gain, end the guardianship, or move them out of state without court approval.

You can learn more about what you can and can’t do as a guardian here.

Legal guardianship mother baby

What Are the Requirements to Be a Guardian?

Elegible Guardian
Elegible Guardianship Adult

Whether you’re the guardian for an elderly parent, a mentally disabled sibling, or a parentless child, Nevada does have restrictions on who can fill that guardian role.

In Nevada, a guardian must be 18 years of age or older.

However, you may not be eligible for guardianship if you:

  • Are incompetent yourself
  • Filed for bankruptcy in the last seven years
  • Are a convicted felon (though the court may still rule in your favor)
  • Lost your right to practice law or accounting
  • Have domestic violence, exploitation, abuse, or abandonment on your record

Yet, applying for a guardianship isn’t enough to guarantee a judge will appoint you to that role.

In the case of an orphaned parent, multiple loved ones may petition the courts.

If that happens, the court might assign co-guardians (if they’re willing to share). Or the Court may choose one potential guardian over the other based on CPS recommendations, the relationship to the child at issue, and the child’s guardianship preferences.

A court-appointed guardian from the Office of the Public Guardian will take on the guardian role if nobody offers or if there’s an emergency (ex: the protected person or their estate are in danger).

Why Do Children Need Guardianships?

Children will need a guardian if their biological parents are no longer able to care for them and meet their basic survival needs.

A child may need a legal guardian if their parents cannot care for the child physically, mentally, or financially.

That could mean a severe physical disability, an unstable or unsafe home life, parental abuse, or both parents being absent or deceased.

Legal children guardianship

Why Would Adults Need a Guardianship?

Healthy adults rarely need guardianships, but you might need a legal guardian one day if you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent.

You’ll see adult guardianship cases in the elderly, particularly in those with psychosis, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia.

If an adult can still make some decisions for themselves, Nevada also has a “special guardianship” where you’ll split decision-making between yourself and the protected person.

Adult Guardianship
Guardianship of an adult

When Does a Guardianship End?

All guardianships will come to an end, though exactly how is a matter of time.

A guardianship over a child ends the day they turn 18 unless they have yet to graduate from high school; in that case, you and the child must agree to extend it to age 19 (file two weeks before 18).

If you’re a guardian for an adult, the guardianship will end in one of two ways: two physicians can prove that the protected person is now competent, or the Protected Person passes away.

However, anyone can petition to terminate or dissolve a guardianship at any time.

A judge may end a guardianship if the child’s parents step forward with proof that they can care for a child physically and mentally or if either party permanently relocates over state lines.

What Are the Different Types of Guardianships?

In Nevada there are four types of guardianships:

1) Guardianship of the person:

The guardian takes on the role of general caregiver, making medical, shelter, and schooling decisions on the protected person’s behalf.

2) Guardianship of the estate:

The guardian makes financial decisions (this is not absolute control of their finances, and Nevada requires court approval to make some choices).

3) Both:

One person can control both, or each can have a different guardian.

A parent can sign over temporary guardianship of their children for six months without going through the traditional court process (form here).

You can also bypass guardianships entirely with a living will, power of attorney, or adoption.

How Do You Petition for a Guardianship?

The process for petitioning for guardianship depends on whether you’re pursuing an adult or a child guardianship.

Generally, Nevada law requires a would-be guardian to file paperwork with the court, submit the order to a judge, argue your case in front of a judge, and prove you’re a good fit.

The court proceedings may involve expert testimony to ensure that the protected person needs a guardian and that the aspiring guardian can fill those shoes.

You can learn more about petitioning for a child or adult guardianship (and the forms you have to complete) here.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Petition for Guardianship?

Need? No.

However, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a family law attorney who can help you find the best guardian for yourself or a loved one.

At the Rosenblum Allen Law Firm, our team is here to help.

We’ll assign an attorney to your case, discuss guardianship options, and walk you through the mounds of legal paperwork.

Give our office a call at (702) 433-2889 or complete our online form to request more information.