My wife and I were informed that our 15 year old daughter is pregnant. We talked with her and the father and his parents. It was agreed upon that my wife and I should take guardianship of the child untill my daughter and her boyfriend are able too. She is 8 weeks pregnant. We are wanting to get everything worked out sooner than later. What path should we take to do this?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
You should go talk to a Family law attorney in your local area. The guardianship will have to be granted by the Probate Court. You might want to wait just a bit due to just how early she is in the pregnancy. It does not hurt to go in for the consultation. Good luck to all of you.
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Family Law Attorney
I would also suggest talking to a family law attorney and get the paperwork started. Please remember that a guardianship will allow you to have rights with the unborn child. It does not terminate your daughter's or the father's rights.
I am an adoption and guardianship attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Missouri or any state other than Pennsylvania. Guardianship laws vary tremendously from state to state. In Pennsylvania, after the child was born, we would IMMEDIATELY file for guardianship. Attached to the Guardianship Petition would be a Consent and Joinder signed by your daughter and her boyfriend. The paperwork could be prepared ahead of the expected birth so it could be filed with your Court quickly. The sooner it is filed, the more likely to get a prompt hearing date. It is likely,an attorney will be appointed to represent your daughter and she will also be questioned by the Judge to make sure she is making the guardianship choice freely and without duress.
In my practice, I also would have your daughter sign a Health Care Power of Attorney on the date of birth so you and your wife will have the capacity to make medical decisions. This could be crucial should the newborn need emergency treatment before the actual guardianship hearing.
The best resource for you is: adoptionattorneys.org. Go to the graphic of Missouri and click on the U.S. map. You will then have a list of Missouri Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are lawyers who have achieved special distinction in the field of adoption, guardianship of minors and other areas of the law that benefit children. I believe there are at least 8 Fellows in Missouri.
(As an aside, you might consider making sure your health insurance carrier will add a child to your policy if you are his/her guardian.)
I'm sorry your family is in this difficult situation. It is terrific that everyone involved can agree on a concrete plan that will create stability for the child. I wish your family good fortune.