Kinship Guardianship as a Permanency Option - Virgin Islands

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Definitions

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-102

A 'guardian' is a person who has qualified as a guardian of a minor or incapacitated person pursuant to appointment by a parent or spouse or by the court. The term includes a limited, emergency, and temporary substitute guardian but not a guardian ad litem.

Purpose of Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-204

The court may appoint a guardian for a minor if the court finds the appointment is in the minor's best interests and the parents consent, all parental rights have been terminated, or the parents are unwilling or unable to exercise their parental rights.

A Guardian's Rights and Responsibilities

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-208

Except as otherwise limited by the court, a guardian of a minor ward has the powers of a parent regarding the ward's support, care, education, health, and welfare. A guardian may do the following:

  • Apply for and receive money for the support of the ward otherwise payable to the ward's parent, guardian, or custodian under the terms of any statutory system of benefits or insurance or any private contract, devise, trust, conservatorship, or custodianship
  • If otherwise consistent with the terms of any order by a court of competent jurisdiction relating to custody of the ward, take custody of the ward and establish the ward's place of custodial dwelling
  • Unless a conservator for the estate of a ward has been appointed, take appropriate action to compel a person to support the ward or to pay money for the benefit of the ward
  • Consent to medical or other care, treatment, or service for the ward
  • Consent to the marriage of the ward

The court may specifically authorize the guardian to consent to the adoption of the ward.

Qualifying the Guardian

Citation: Ann Code Tit. 15, § 5-206

The court shall appoint as guardian a person whose appointment will be in the best interests of the minor. The court shall appoint a person nominated by the minor if the minor has reached age 14, unless the court finds the appointment will be contrary to the best interests of the minor.

Procedures for Establishing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, §§ 5-204; 5-205

A minor or a person interested in the welfare of a minor may petition for appointment of a guardian. After a petition for appointment of a guardian is filed, the court shall schedule a hearing, and the petitioner shall give notice of the time and place of the hearing, together with a copy of the petition, to the following:

  • The minor, if the minor is age 14 or older and is not the petitioner
  • Any person alleged to have had the primary care and custody of the minor during the 60 days before the filing of the petition
  • Each living parent of the minor or, if there is none, the adult nearest in kinship that can be found
  • Any person nominated as guardian by the minor if the minor is at least age 14
  • Any appointee of a parent whose appointment has not been prevented or terminated under § 5-203
  • Any guardian or conservator currently acting for the minor in the Virgin Islands or elsewhere

At the hearing, the court shall make the appointment if it finds that a qualified person seeks appointment, venue is proper, the required notices have been given, the conditions of § 5-204(b) have been met, and the best interests of the minor will be served by the appointment. In other cases, the court may dismiss the proceeding or make any other disposition of the matter that will serve the best interests of the minor.

If the court determines at any stage of the proceeding, before or after appointment, that the interests of the minor are or may be inadequately represented, it may appoint a lawyer to represent the minor, giving consideration to the choice of the minor if the minor is at least age 14.

Contents of a Guardianship Order

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Modification/Revocation of Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-210

A guardianship of a minor terminates upon the minor's death, adoption, emancipation, or attainment of majority or as ordered by the court.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Links to Agency Policies

Kinship guardianship is not addressed in available agency policies.