When your partner’s mental health makes them unable to care for themselves or the child, or even to participate in the divorce, a conservatorship or guardianship attorney can help you figure out how to move forward. If neither parent is capable of taking care of the child, and you have stepped in to take care of the child, a conservatorship or guardianship attorney can help formalize this arrangement and give you the orders you need to help care for and protect the child.
A guardianship or conservatorship action is typically heard in the probate court but can have a significant impact on the family law case. A guardianship action may be helpful if you have custody but are not the biological parent of the child in your care. Often, grandparents or relatives find themselves responsible for taking care of the child if something happens to the parents – typically because of alcohol or drug abuse, or mental illness. However, these relatives do not have the legal rights of a parent, and can often have problems enrolling the child in school or getting medical attention for the child. A guardianship attorney can help you put in place a guardianship to give the caretaker of the children the legal rights to help the child.
Guardianships can also determine custodial arrangements with the biological parents in cases where the parents are not capable of taking care of the child but still want to be involved.
Conservatorships are often necessary if one spouse is mentally incapable of participating in the divorce process. In instances where mental illness or other extreme mental issues impair the spouse’s functioning, a conservatorship attorney can help you navigate the process of dissolving the marriage and securing your rights.
How to Prepare for Your First Meeting
Generally speaking, if you have any papers that have been filed with the court, bring those with you. Your conservatorship or guardianship attorney will need different information for different cases. Below is a simple outline for what you should bring to make the first meeting as productive as possible.
- Make a list of specific a list of immediate concerns that need to be addressed.
- Be familiar with any psychological or medical diagnoses for the party whose mental competence is a concern.