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Maryland’s Guardianship and Kinship Caregiver Laws

Every parent’s most important function is to provide for the daily care and needs of their children. Unfortunately, we live in a real world where parents are not always around to provide for their children’s most crucial day-to-day needs. Military service, disabling illnesses, problems with substance abuse, incarceration and other factors can sometimes deprive children of the day-to-day guidance and nurturing they need. Things like enrolling them in school, getting them medical care or obtaining public assistance on their behalf.

Fortunately, Maryland recognizes the rights of some children’s blood relatives, and other interested third parties, to step up temporarily and fill the role of caregivers in the lives of those affected children. Of course, these individuals may qualify for the formal adoption of those children but that may not always be a practical solution. That’s because adoption involves a permanent forfeiture of parental rights.

Alternatively, a guardianship of a minor or even a kinship caregiver agreement may be more appropriate in some situations. Both of these legal determinations provide crucial tools to relatives and others who genuinely care for the children’s well-being.

As the name implies, kinship caregiver agreements are specifically available to a child’s blood relative. One of the advantages for establishing this type of agreement is that the relative who is providing 24 hours a day care for an affected child can also receive public assistance benefits on behalf of the child. Additionally, most schools throughout Maryland require a kinship caregiver agreement to enroll children in school.

A guardianship of a minor is somewhat more involved. In a typical guardianship a child’s parent and the proposed guardian will consent to exchanging parental control for a temporary period of time. This relationship will continue to remain in effect until such time as both parties, or a court decides to terminate the guardianship.

An attorney experienced in Maryland’s guardianship and kinship caregiver laws can help you determine which method may work best for you based on your particular circumstances. Your attorney can also advise you about the adoption process if you are currently considering that option.

Source: The People’s Law Library of Maryland, “Guadianship of a Minor,” accessed June 12, 2015

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