Standby Guardianship - New Jersey

Date: June 2018

Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 3B:12-72

A parent or legal custodian may petition the court to appoint a standby guardian.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 3B:12-72; 3B:12-74; 3B:12-77

A petition for the judicial appointment of a standby guardian of a minor child shall state the following:

  • The triggering event or events that shall cause the authority of the appointed standby guardian to become effective
  • That there is a significant risk that the parent or legal custodian will die, become incapacitated, or become debilitated as a result of a progressive chronic condition or a fatal illness
  • The name, address, and qualifications of the proposed standby guardian

The parent or legal custodian may choose a standby guardian by means of a written designation that names the standby guardian in the event of the designator's death, incapacity, or debilitation. The written designation shall reasonably identify the designator, the minor child, and the standby guardian. The written designation shall be signed by the designator in the presence of two witnesses who shall also sign the designation.

The designation shall state the triggering event by which the parent or legal custodian intends the designated standby guardianship of the minor child to be activated. An optional designation form is provided in the statute.

Children who are age 14 or older must be notified, and the court will consider their preference.

How Standby Authority is Activated

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 3B:12-73

Upon the occurrence of a triggering event, the standby guardian is empowered to immediately assume his or her duties. If the triggering event is the incapacity or debilitation of the parent or legal custodian, the attending physician shall provide a copy of his determination to the appointed standby guardian.

Within 60 days, the standby guardian must file a petition with the court for confirmation of guardianship. The confirmation petition shall include a determination of incapacity or debilitation or a death certificate, as appropriate.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 3B:12-72

Notice of a hearing must be served to any parent who has parental rights within 30 days of filing the petition. If, after a diligent search, the noncustodial parent cannot be found, the court may proceed.

No notice is required to a parent who is deceased or whose rights have been previously terminated.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 3B:12-73; 3B:12-74

Commencement of the duties of the standby guardian shall confer upon the appointed standby guardian shared authority with the custodial parent or legal custodian of the minor child, unless the petition states otherwise.

Appointment of a standby guardian shall not involuntarily deprive any parent of parental rights.

Withdrawing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 3B:12-73

A standby guardian may decline appointment at any time before the assumption of his or her duties by filing a written statement to that effect with the court, with notice to the petitioner and to the minor child if the latter is age 14 or older.

A parent or legal custodian may revoke a standby guardianship by executing a written revocation, filing it with the court where the petition was filed, and promptly notifying the appointed standby guardian of the revocation.

An unwritten revocation may be considered by the court if the revocation can be proved by clear and convincing evidence submitted to the court.

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