Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - Michigan

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Definitions

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.872

The term 'guardian' means a person appointed by the court to act as a legal guardian for a child under §§ 712A.19a and 712A.19c.

The term 'relative' means an individual who is at least age 18 and related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, as grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, aunt or uncle, great-aunt or great-uncle, great-great-aunt or great-great-uncle, sibling, stepsibling, nephew or niece, first cousin or first cousin once removed, or the spouse of any of the above, even after the marriage has ended by death or divorce. The parent of a man who the court has found probable cause to believe is the putative father, if there is no man with legally established rights to the child, may be considered a relative under this act, but this is not to be considered as a finding of paternity and does not confer legal standing on the putative father.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: Pol. Man. GDM 600

Juvenile guardianship is available for temporary and permanent court wards and State wards when reunification and adoption have been ruled out as permanency goals. The court, at a permanency-planning hearing, may appoint a juvenile legal guardian for a child in lieu of terminating parental rights or returning the child home.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

Citation: Comp. Laws § 700.5215

A child's guardian has the powers and responsibilities of a parent who is not deprived of custody of the parent's child, except that a guardian is not legally obligated to provide for the child from the guardian's own money and is not liable to third persons by reason of the parental relationship for the child's acts.

The guardian shall facilitate the child's education and social or other activities, and shall authorize medical or other professional care, treatment, or advice. A guardian is not liable by reason of this consent for injury to the child resulting from the negligence or acts of third persons unless it would be illegal for a parent to have consented.

A guardian may consent to the child's marriage or adoption.

A guardian must report the condition of the child and of the child's estate that is subject to the guardian's possession or control as ordered by the court on petition of a person interested in the child's welfare or as required by court rule. The report must detail the condition of the child, medical or mental health treatment or care to which the child was subjected, and what reason, if any, exists for the continuation of the guardianship.

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 712A.19a; 722.874

If a child is placed in a guardian's or a proposed guardian's home, the court shall order the Department of Health and Human Services to perform an investigation and file a written report of the investigation for a review. The court shall order the department to do all of the following:

  • Perform a criminal record check within 7 days
  • Perform a central registry clearance within 7 days
  • Perform a home study and file a copy of the home study with the court within 30 days, unless a home study has been performed within the immediately preceding year

If a home study has been performed within the immediately preceding year, a copy of that home study shall be submitted to the court.

The guardian who receives guardianship assistance must be a licensed foster parent. The approval process shall include criminal record checks and child abuse and neglect central registry checks on the guardian and all adults living in the guardian's home, as well as fingerprint-based criminal record checks on the guardian.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Comp. Laws § 712A.19a

If the court determines at a permanency-planning hearing that a child should not be returned to his or her parent, the court may order the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights. This is not required if the child is being cared for by relatives or adoption has been ruled out as an appropriate permanency goal for the child.

If the agency demonstrates that initiating the termination of parental rights to the child is clearly not in the child's best interests, or the court does not order the agency to initiate termination of parental rights to the child, then the court, if the court determines that it is in the child's best interests, may appoint a guardian for the child. The guardianship may continue until the child is emancipated.

Contents of a Guardianship Order

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.875b

Legal guardianship is a judicially created relationship, as provided for under §§ 712A.19a and 712A.19c, between the child and his or her guardian that is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining as evidenced by the transfer to the guardian the following parental rights with respect to the child:

  • Protection
  • Education
  • Care and control of the person
  • Custody of the person
  • Decision-making

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

Citation: Comp. Laws § 712A.19a

The court's jurisdiction over a guardianship created under this section shall continue until released by court order. The court shall review a guardianship annually and may conduct additional reviews as the court considers necessary. The court may order the department or a court employee to conduct an investigation and file a written report of the investigation.

In making the determinations under this section, the court shall consider any written or oral information concerning the child from the child's parent, guardian, custodian, foster parent, child-caring institution, relative with whom the child is placed, or guardian ad litem, in addition to any other evidence, including the appropriateness of parenting time, offered at the hearing.

The court may, on its own motion or upon petition from the department or the child's lawyer guardian ad litem, hold a hearing to determine whether a guardianship appointed under this section shall be revoked.

A guardian may petition the court for permission to terminate the guardianship. A petition may include a request for appointment of a successor guardian.

After notice and hearing on a petition for revocation or permission to terminate the guardianship, if the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that continuation of the guardianship is not in the child's best interests, the court shall revoke or terminate the guardianship and appoint a successor guardian or restore temporary legal custody to the department.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 722.873; 722.874

A child is eligible to receive guardianship assistance if all of the following apply:

  • The child has been removed from home, and a court has found that remaining at home would be contrary to the child's welfare.
  • The child has lived in the home of the prospective guardian for at least 6 consecutive months.
  • Reunification or placing the child for adoption is not an appropriate option.
  • The child has a strong attachment to the guardian, and the guardian has a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child until the child reaches age 18.
  • A child who is at least age 14 has been consulted regarding the guardianship.

A guardian who meets all of the following criteria may receive guardianship assistance on behalf of an eligible child:

  • The guardian is the child's relative or legal custodian.
  • The guardian is a licensed foster parent and approved for guardianship assistance by the department.
  • The child has resided with the guardian in his or her home for a minimum of 6 months before the applying for guardianship assistance.

Only a relative who is a licensed foster parent caring for a child who is eligible to receive title IV-E-funded foster care payments for 6 consecutive months is eligible for Federal title IV-E for guardianship assistance. A child who is not eligible for title IV-E funding is placed with a licensed foster parent, related or unrelated, may be eligible for State-funded guardianship assistance.

If a child who is eligible for title IV-E-funded guardianship assistance has a sibling who is not eligible, both of the following apply:

  • The child and any of the child's siblings may be placed in the same relative guardianship arrangement if the department and the relative agree on the appropriateness of the arrangement for the sibling.
  • Title IV-E-funded relative guardianship assistance payments may be paid on behalf of each sibling placed in the home.

Links to Agency Policies

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: