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How can a family member get legal guardianship of me?

Puyallup, WA |

I have been living away from home for almost 4 months, I am 16 years old and living with my second cousin and his wife who are taking care of me but my mom is still receiving food stamps and child support for me and not helping my cousins AT ALL financially, not one cent! They have 3 small kids of their own and work very hard to support all of us and are struggling financially to do so. They want to be my legal guardians and I want that more than anything too. Please help!

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Attorney answers 3


In most jurisdictions at 16 you could nominate a guardian. Court forms should be available through your local probate court for your cousin to fill out. your mom would have to be given notice of the hearing and can oppose it. An attorney could be very helpful, and yyou may want to contact legal services in your area to get help.

Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder


There is also a way in Washington for a minor who is 16 years old or older to become emancipated. This way a minor would not need a guardian.


There is a way to do it. I would advise starting at some kind of legal clinic in Puyallup or Tacoma. Here is a link to the Pierce County Bar Associations pro bono legal services website:

All the best! It may seem dismal now, but there are steps to take and people who can help.

This posting is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit

Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder


Sorry, I forgot to mention that you can become emancipated, meaning you would not need a guardian. It might be a simpler procedure if you are interested.


A guardianship will not address issues like child support and custody, or trump parental rights with regard to these issues. Your second cousin should consult with a lawyer and discuss whether guardianship or a third-party custody order would be best. A third-party custody proceeding (also referred to as a nonparental custody proceeding) could result in an order requiring your mother to pay support to your cousin, and a residential schedule making clear they have custody of you. I have attached a link to information about both guardianship and nonparental custody; forms can be found at the Pierce County Superior Court and Washington Courts websites. It would still be a good idea for your cousin to consult with a lawyer because obtaining custody over your mother's objection could be difficult and requires knowledge of the law regarding parental rights.

The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed.

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