Permanent Guardianship of Minor
Permanent Guardianship authorizes an individual to care for a minor child when both parents are deceased. The minor has no natural guardian, testamentary guardian, permanent guardian, or the parental rights of any living parent have been terminated by a court. Termination of parental rights is not the same as a loss of custody. Termination of parental right is permanent; a custody order could be modified at a later date.
To begin the process, a petition must be filed seeking guardianship of the child by the person who wishes to be named guardian. The Initial Filing Fees
must be paid upon filing the petition. You must file the petition in the county where the child is located or where the proposed permanent guardian is a resident. The person seeking guardianship must complete all pages of the petition. You will need to list three nearest relatives of the minor child. There is an additional cost if the Court determines a Citation is required. You will need a certified copy of the minor’s birth certificate and copies of the parent’s death certificate, obituary, or funeral program. If the guardianship is needed for more than one minor, and the minors have the same mother and father, you can file one petition. If the minors have different parents, you will have to file a petition for each minor and pay the required filing fees for each petition. To qualify as a guardian of a minor, you must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have poof of permanent status in the U.S.
The Petition must be filed and the filing fees must be paid upon filing. If everything in the petition looks complete, the clerk calls the petitioner for a hearing date. The clerk determines whether or not a citation has to be issued, prepares any needed citation or notice, and has the same published or served. There is additional costs for the issuance or service of citations. The minor’s biological father (father of a minor born out of wedlock who has not legitimated the minor and whose rights regarding the minor have not been surrendered or terminated) is entitled to notice of the filing of the petition and is entitled to object to the petition and request a continuance in order to legitimate the minor. If he objects and legitimates the minor, the Petition will be dismissed. If he fails to legitimate the minor, the biological father will have no further rights to receive notice or object to the petition.
The Judge can elect to have a background check completed on the potential guardians. The petitioner will appear in Court and upon the Judge’s determination, Orders, Oath and Guardianship Letters are signed.
Any balance of court costs must be paid prior to the Order and Letters of Guardianship being issued.
Richmond County Probate Court
John H. Ruffin Judicial Center
735 James Brown Blvd., Suite 1000
Augusta, Ga. 30901