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?
Administrative Law Lawyer
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.
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.
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