Standby Guardianship - Vermont

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Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, § 2621

When parents are temporarily unable to care for their children, guardianship provides a process through which parents can arrange for family members or other parties to care for the children.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, § 2622

A child in need of guardianship is a child who the parties consent is in need of adult care because of any one of the following:

  • The child's custodial parent has a serious or terminal illness.
  • A custodial parent's physical or mental health prevents the parent from providing proper care and supervision for the child.
  • The child's home is no longer habitable as the result of a natural disaster.
  • A custodial parent of the child is incarcerated.
  • A custodial parent of the child is on active military duty.
  • The parties have articulated and agreed to another reason that guardianship is in the best interests of the child.

How Standby Authority is Activated

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, §§ 2623; 2626

A parent or a person interested in the welfare of a minor may file a petition with the Probate Division of the Superior Court for the appointment of a guardian for a child. The petition shall include the following:

  • The names and addresses of the parents, the child, and the proposed guardian
  • The proposed guardian's relationship to the child
  • The names of all members of the proposed guardian's household
  • Specific reasons with supporting facts why guardianship is sought
  • Whether the parties agree that the child is in need of guardianship and that the proposed guardian should be appointed as guardian

If the petition requests a consensual guardianship, the petition shall include a consent signed by the custodial parent or parents verifying that the parent or parents understand the nature of the guardianship and knowingly and voluntarily consent to the guardianship.

The court shall grant the petition if it finds after the hearing by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The child is a child in need of guardianship, as defined above.
  • The child's parents had notice of the proceeding and knowingly and voluntarily consented to the guardianship.
  • The agreement is voluntary.
  • The proposed guardian is suitable.
  • The guardianship is in the best interests of the child.

If the court grants the petition, it shall approve the agreement at the hearing and issue an order establishing a guardianship. The order shall be consistent with the terms of the parties' agreement, unless the court finds that the agreement was not reached voluntarily or is not in the best interests of the child.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, § 2622

A custodial parent is the parent who, at the time of the commencement of the guardianship proceeding, has the right and responsibility to provide the routine daily care and control of the child. The rights of the custodial parent may be held solely or shared and may be subject to the court-ordered right of the other parent to have contact with the child. If physical parental rights and responsibilities are shared pursuant to court order, both parents shall be considered 'custodial parents' for purposes of this subdivision.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, §§ 2621; 2626(b)

It is in the interests of all parties, including the children, that parents and proposed guardians have a shared understanding about the length of time that they expect the guardianship to last, the circumstances under which the parents will resume care for their children, and the nature of the supports and services that are available to assist them.

On or before the date of the hearing, the parties shall file an agreement between the proposed guardian and the parents. The agreement shall address the following:

  • The responsibilities of the guardian
  • The responsibilities of the parents
  • The expected duration of the guardianship, if known
  • Parent-child contact and parental involvement in decision-making

Withdrawing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 14, § 2632

A parent may file a motion to terminate a guardianship at any time. The motion shall be filed with the court that issued the guardianship order and served on all parties and interested persons.

If the motion to terminate is made with respect to a consensual guardianship established under § 2626 of this title, the court shall grant the motion and terminate the guardianship unless the guardian files a motion to continue the guardianship within 30 days after the motion to terminate is served.

If the guardian files a motion to continue the guardianship, the matter shall be set for hearing and treated as a nonconsensual guardianship proceeding under § 2627 of this title. The parent shall not be required to show a change in circumstances, and the court shall not grant the motion to continue the guardianship unless the guardian establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is a child in need of guardianship.