Guardianship of a Minor

Removing a child from a parent’s custody is not an outcome that anybody wants.  There can be no doubt that children benefit from a parent’s care and nurturing, but there are circumstances in which vesting guardianship of the child in a third-person may be in the child’s best interest, particularly if a parent’s presence in the child’s life is harmful to the child. 

In addition to guardianship actions in which a child is removed from a parent’s custody without the parent’s consent, there are also situations in which a parent may consent to vesting a child’s guardianship in a third-person temporarily or permanently.  Whether you are cooperating with a parent to assume guardianship of a child, or are attempting to remove a child from a damaging or dangerous situation, contact an attorney at the Zolman Law Firm in St. Louis today for a free consultation to discuss your guardianship action.

Missouri's Guardianship Law

In Missouri, each parent of a child is vested with the co-equal rights, duties, and powers entailed in being the child’s natural guardian.[1]  To be relieved of these rights, duties, and powers, each parent must consent to vesting the guardianship of a child with a third-person.  Absent this consent, a third-party seeking guardianship of a child must demonstrate to a court that each parent is unable, unwilling, or unfit to assume the duties of guardianship.[2] 

The circumstances constituting a parent’s inability, unwillingness, or unfitness to assume guardianship duties are unique to each case but may include the parent’s neglect of the child, substance abuse, or cohabitation with a person that is dangerous to the child.  A person appointed as a minor’s guardian assumes the duties to provide for the minor’s education, support, and medical care.[3]  While a guardian assumes these duties, the guardian need not necessarily expend their own financial resources in fulling their duties, and a court may order the child’s parents to provide financial support to the guardian.

In addition to cases in which a parent does not consent to permanently vesting a third-person with the guardianship of a child, there are also cases in which parents wish to temporarily grant the powers and authority of a guardian to a third-person. 

Parents can temporarily delegate guardianship powers and authority of their child to a third-person by properly executing a Power of Attorney. A parent may wish to delegate these powers for a variety of reasons, and some of the more common reasons are due to a parent’s military service, a parent’s participation in substance-abuse treatment, and a desire for the child to live with third-persons for an extended period of time for educational purposes. 

A Power of Attorney of this type may only delegate parental powers regarding the care and custody of a child for a period of one year.  However, parents may simultaneously execute multiple Powers of Attorney that take effect in succession such that the delegation may continue indefinitely.

Whether you are a parent and a third-party working together to provide for a child, or you believe that there is a need to remove a child from a detrimental environment, contact an attorney at the Zolman Law Firm in St. Louis today for a free consultation to discuss the options that are available to you.


[1] http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/47500000251.html [2] http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/47500000301.html [3] http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/47500001201.html [4] http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/47500000241.html