Guardianship of Minor

questions & answers

Question: I am a single mom of 4 children (20, 19, 13, & 10). I divorced the children's father almost 8 yrs ago. I have full sole custody, and he was granted supervised visitation 2 hrs a week. Soon after the divorce, he stopped seeing or contacting the children. He currently has 5 felony warrants in the state of AZ for drugs and such and owes large fines. He fled the state about 6 yrs ago. And has not been seen or heard from since then. I want to know what I can do in lieu of custody of my children in the event of my death. Obviously the older children are safe; however, my 2 younger children I am concerned about. They do not know him or even know what he looks like. A long time fear of mine is that he could come and take them from family and friends here. Am I able to leave them to a more capable and safe guardian? And if so, what can I do without racking up large attorney fees? Thanks so much.

Answer: A person cannot circumvent the father’s legal interest in the children by naming her own parents as "guardians" in the event of her passing. Biological parents generally have a superior right to custody over any other third party - including grandparents. If abandonment of the family exceeds six months and/or the person completely disappears, the other person can attempt to terminate parental rights by filing a petition to that effect in superior court (juvenile division). Grandparents can also petition for custody or visitation under A.R.S. § 25-415. Family law can be complicated and very fact specific. To find out how the laws may apply to your specific situation, you may want to consult with an attorney.

QUESTIONS

  • I am a single mom of 4 children (20, 19, 13, & 10). I divorced the children's father almost 8 yrs ago. I have full sole custody, and he was granted supervised visitation 2 hrs a week. Soon after the divorce, he stopped seeing or contacting the children. He currently has 5 felony warrants in the state of AZ for drugs and such and owes large fines. He fled the state about 6 yrs ago. And has not been seen or heard from since then. I want to know what I can do in lieu of custody of my children in the event of my death. Obviously the older children are safe; however, my 2 younger children I am concerned about. They do not know him or even know what he looks like. A long time fear of mine is that he could come and take them from family and friends here. Am I able to leave them to a more capable and safe guardian? And if so, what can I do without racking up large attorney fees? Thanks so much.

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