Standby Guardianship - Virgin Islands

Date: June 2018

Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, §§ 5-201; 5-202; 5-203

A person becomes a guardian of a minor by parental appointment or upon appointment by the court. The guardianship continues until terminated, without regard to the location of the guardian or minor ward.

A guardian may be appointed by will or other signed writing by a parent for any minor child the parent has or may have in the future. The appointment may specify the desired limitations on the powers to be given to the guardian. The appointing parent may revoke or amend the appointment before confirmation by the court.

Until the court has confirmed an appointee under § 5-202, a minor who is the subject of an appointment by a parent and who has reached age 14, the other parent, or a person other than a parent or guardian having care or custody of the minor may prevent or terminate the appointment at any time by filing a written objection in the court in which the appointing instrument is filed and giving notice of the objection to the guardian and any other persons entitled to notice of the acceptance of the appointment. An objection may be withdrawn and if withdrawn, is of no effect. The objection does not preclude judicial appointment of the person selected by the parent.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-202

Upon petition of an appointing parent and a finding that the appointing parent will likely become unable to care for the child within 2 years, the court, before the appointment becomes effective, may confirm the parent's selection of a guardian and terminate the rights of others to object.

Subject to § 5-203, the appointment of a guardian becomes effective upon the appointing parent's death, adjudication that the parent is an incapacitated person, or a written determination by a physician who has examined the parent that the parent is no longer able to care for the child, whichever first occurs.

How Standby Authority is Activated

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, §§ 5-202; 5-204; 5-206

The guardian becomes eligible to act upon the filing of an acceptance of appointment, which must be filed within 30 days after the guardian's appointment becomes effective. The guardian shall file the acceptance and a copy of the will or signed writing with the court and give written notice of the acceptance of appointment to the appointing parent, if living; the minor who is at least age 14; and a person other than the parent having care and custody of the minor.

A minor or a person interested in the welfare of a minor may petition for appointment of a guardian. 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.

If a guardian is appointed by a parent pursuant to § 5-202 and the appointment has not been prevented or terminated under § 5-203, that appointee has priority for appointment. However, the court may proceed with another appointment upon a finding that the appointee under § 5-202 has failed to accept the appointment within 30 days after notice of the guardianship proceeding.

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.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-202

The appointment of a guardian by a parent does not supersede the parental rights of either parent. If both parents are dead or have been adjudged incapacitated persons, an appointment by the last parent who died or was adjudged incapacitated has priority.

Withdrawing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 15, § 5-210

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

A ward or a person interested in the welfare of a ward may petition for any order that is in the best interests of the ward. The petitioner shall give notice of the hearing on the petition to the ward, if the ward is age 14 or older and is not the petitioner, the guardian, and any other person as ordered by the court.

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