A guardian is defined as the person or entity appointed by the court to make decisions concerning the person of the ward. In Colorado, the process for appointment of a guardian begins with the filing of a Petition for Appointment of a Guardian. This petition is filed in the District Court where the ward resides or is present.
On filing of a petition, the court sets a date for hearing on the appointment of the guardian. However in case of an emergency or in case where the child has no guardian, the court can appoint an emergency guardian. Such appointment can usually be done without notice or hearing. The petition for Appointment of the Guardian must however state the need for such emergent appointment of the guardian.
The parent of a child can also seek the appointment of a standby guardian for the child by a will or other signed written instrument. The guardian of a child can also by will or any signed written document appoint another person as the standby guardian of the child.
The writing should be signed by the parent or guardian and also by two other witnesses. Notarizations of the signature of all these persons are also required.
Upon a petition for appointment of guardian, the court will look into whether the parent or guardian is likely to become unable to care for the child within 2 years. If it is so found, then the court will confirm the selection of a guardian by a parent or guardian and terminate the rights of others to object. If the child is age 12 or older, s/he must consent to the appointment of a guardian.
There are certain circumstances upon which the authority of the standby guardian is activated. These circumstances include the death of the appointing parent or guardian, adjudication that the parent or guardian is an incapacitated person, or a written determination by a physician who has examined the parent or guardian that the parent or guardian is no longer able to care for the child.
On appointment, the guardian should file an acceptance of appointment. This is filed within 30 days of appointment.
The statute also lays down the extent of involvement that the non custodial parent has in the matter of appointment of the guardian. The non custodial parent may at any time, before the court confirms an appointee prevent or terminate the appointment of the guardian by filing a written objection with the court.
Generally, the consent of a non custodial parent is required unless the rights of the parent have been terminated or the parent is unwilling or unable to exercise the rights.
After a petition for appointment of a guardian is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition must be given to the noncustodial parent. However, the appointment of a standby guardian does not supersede the parental rights of either parent.
The appointment of the standby guardian can be revoked or amended by the appointing parent or guardian at any time before it is confirmed by the court. The authority of the guardian terminates upon the following conditions:
- appointment of another guardian
- the filing of an objection by another person
- the refusal of the minor age 12 or older to consent.
The guardianship terminates upon a minor’s death, adoption, emancipation, or attainment of majority, or as ordered by the court.