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How to obtain a temporary guardianship or guardianship of my sister ?

Vilonia, AR |

I have three younger sisters that are involved in a temporary guardianship with relatives. Until recently they had been living separate one with an uncle that is no longer a part of the family and two with an Aunt. Last year, my uncle decided he didn't want my sister anymore and gave her to the Aunt with the other two. My Aunt i believe is struggling financially to provide for the three of them because she already has kids of her own. The three girls share a room and a queen sized bed. I live in Arkansas and would be more than happy to take the one that was most recently placed with her by the Uncle. However my Aunt is under the impression that because I live in a different state that isnt possible. Would I need to apply there for the guardianship where they currently live or in Arkansas?

Attorney Answers 2


There are several things going on in your question. I will respond to each of them as well as some issues I see based on how you asked the question.

First, it is not clear if your sisters are currently under a formal court guardianship or, as is usually the case, an informal placement by family members. If there is not a formal guardianship, your aunt could release your sister to your custody. You would then need to file for a formal guardianship for yourself in the state where you are living.

My concern is this: it is usually a good idea for siblings to be kept together, if possible. Consequently, you need to get a better understanding of why one child was sent to live in one household and the other two children sent to a different family member. Now that all three sisters are together, there would be a strong interest, possibly among the girls themselves, to stay together. Here is a point that I saw: your aunt can apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF formerly AFDC) benefits for the three sisters that are now in her custody either as a non-needy caretaker relative or if she and her own children are struggling financially, for herself and her children as well. This may make more sense in the shorter term.

You may yourself file a petition for guardianship in Arkansas for the child that you are willing to accept into your home, but there will probably be an investigation by child welfare authorities, which raises the question of whether you want to undergo this process for just one child when doing this for all three might be a better course of action.

You and your family members need to consult with both a family law /probate law attorney and a family counselor to get a clearer understanding as to which courses of action would be best for your younger sisters.

This is a huge undertaking. Good luck with this.

This advice is not a substitute for a thorough evaluation of all of the facts of your case by a probate or family law attorney familiar with guardianship law in Arkansas and the state where the children are living.

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Long story as short as possible, in 2001 my mother got busted with a meth lab in our home and went to prison in Missouri. Two of my Aunts went to an attorney in Missouri and got temporary guardianship of my three youngest sisters because none of us older girls were old enough to receive them. My mom got out of prison and never took the initiative to get them back. Us olderst girls went and lived with our fathers. The three youngest girls father gave up his rights shortly after my mom went to prison. In the shared temporary guardianship, one aunt took the oldest and youngest and another aunt took the middle child. A few years later aunt with middle child got a divroce from her husband, and left the child with her husband who is not a blood relative. Both aunts and uncles continued to sign documentation yearly stating that they were still married and living in the same household with the middle child, when in fact they were not. So child was living with an uncle who was not a nice man. This last year, after years and years of begging them (both sets of aunts) to let me have the middle child because of who she was with, the uncle finally got tired of dealing with her and was going to send her to a boot camp in nevada. So other aunt that has the other two girls took her in. She is having a very hard time adjusting to living with a family when for almost 9 years she lived by herself with an adult male. I honestly feel that she has endured some type of abuse while living with him but I cannot get enough time alone with her to get her to open up. My aunt is very protective and in the past 6 years the only times I have gotten to see them is when they are having school functions, family gatherings, or I call in advance to come to their house to see them. She has one child of her own still living with her and then my three sisters. The three girls share a bedroom and to my knowledge a queen sized bed. I do agree about wanting to keep the siblings together, however since they have spent a limited amount of time together, actually less than I have gotten to see them all, they are like strangers living in the same house. I feel like the middle child needs more attention than my aunt has time to give her with getting her to open up and help her to become trusting and just in general a happy child. She is 14 years old so of course I wouldn't bring her to my home without her actually wanting to. I also wouldnt fight my aunt on this. I want to ask her if she feels overwhelmed and if she would like me to take her. This will not be a forcive action. I just want her to be happy and to experience with what time she has left as a child a happy childhood. She has missed out on a lot of things that most children get to do with their parents. I wouldnt want to take the other two girls from my aunt because they have been with her for going on 12 years, that is their home, the only one they have known.

Daphne Lori Macklin

Daphne Lori Macklin


thank you for these details. Contact me by e-mail to arrange a consultation at


Guardianships are governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, and so once a court makes an initial determination, the courts of that state have continuing jurisdiction until none of the parties or the children continue to live in that state (as with most rules, there can be exceptions but you are probably not looking at one of those).

If the guardianship is "temporary," then the case is probably still open (in Arkansas temporary guardianships are only valid for up to 90 days), in which case you can file a motion to intervene and ask that you be appointed guardian.

This response is for information purposes only, it does not create any attorney-client relationship. Responses to questions posted on this Forum are of a general nature only. Because it is not possible to have all of the facts of your issue addressed in this forum, you should consult with an attorney to review the unique circumstances specific to your situation.

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