Understanding Guardianship for Minors in Colorado

March 22, 2024

Guardianship is a legal process that establishes a responsible adult to take care of a minor child or individual who is unable to take care of themselves. At Johnson Law Group, we understand that guardianship can be complex and emotionally demanding. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll guide you through the process of establishing guardianship specifically for minors in Colorado.

Who Can File for Guardianship?A child holding a teddy bear with parents talking to a family law attorney in the background.

In Colorado, anyone concerned about a minor's welfare who is at least 21 years old can file a petition to be selected as a guardian or nominate someone else for the role. This could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, close family friends, or even someone outside the family circle, as long as the court deems them suitable.

When Does the Court Grant Guardianship?

The court will grant guardianship if one of the following factors is met:

  • Parental Consent: The minor's parents willingly agree to the guardianship.
  • Loss of Parental Rights: The court has terminated the parental rights of the minor's biological parents.
  • Parental Inability: The court determines that the parents are not able to care for the child due to physical or mental incapacity, incarceration, or abandonment.
  • Previous Guardian’s Incapacity: The previously appointed guardian has passed away or become incapacitated.

Types of Guardianship in Colorado

There are three main types of guardianship available in Colorado, each with a distinct timeframe and purpose:

  • Emergency Guardianship: This temporary arrangement is granted for 60 days. The design is for situations where there's a likelihood of significant harm to the child’s safety or health, and immediate action is needed. Obtaining emergency guardianship often involves a court hearing with a lower burden of proof than other types. However, due to the time-sensitive nature, it's crucial to have an attorney to present the case effectively and secure the necessary order.
  • Temporary Guardianship: This type of guardianship can last up to six months. It's suitable for circumstances where there's an immediate need for someone to care for the child, and appointing a permanent guardian isn’t feasible at the time. The process for obtaining temporary guardianship typically involves a more thorough court hearing than an emergency case. The petitioner must provide evidence of the child's needs and why a temporary guardian is necessary.
  • Permanent Guardianship: This is a long-term arrangement that remains in effect until the child reaches 18 years of age. The guardian assumes full responsibility for the child's physical and emotional well-being, including making decisions about healthcare, education, and residence. This is the most complex type of guardianship, involving a comprehensive court hearing where the petitioner must demonstrate why the parents are unfit to care for the child and why permanent guardianship is in the child's best interests.

The Guardianship Process

After determining who can file for guardianship, you must obtain the necessary forms and file a petition with the court in the child's county of residence. Following specific legal procedures, you'll then serve notice of the petition hearing on all interested parties, such as the child's parents and anyone currently caring for them. The court hearing involves presenting evidence to support the need for guardianship, including documentation, witness testimonies, and potentially expert opinions. A formal order outlining the guardian's specific powers and responsibilities will be issued if granted. The process of establishing guardianship can be intricate. That is why it's essential to seek guidance from a qualified Colorado family law attorney like those at Johnson Law Group. We can help you navigate the legal process, understand your rights and options, and ensure a smooth guardianship transition that prioritizes the child's best interests.

Benefits of Having an Attorney

An attorney specializing in family law can provide invaluable support throughout the guardianship process. Here's how Johnson Law Group can assist you:

  • Case Evaluation: We can assess your situation and decide the most appropriate type of guardianship to pursue.
  • Preparing and Filing Petitions: Our legal team will handle the necessary paperwork and file all documentation correctly.
  • Court Representation: Our team has decades of combined experience fighting in the courtroom. We'll advocate for your position in court and present a compelling case on your behalf.
  • Addressing Complexities: Guardianship cases can involve conflicting interests or intricate family dynamics. We can help navigate these challenges and achieve a favorable outcome.

Contact Johnson Law Group Today

In the video below, Jessica Lasky, Managing Partner and Attorney at Law at Johnson Law Group gives an overview of the intricacies of minor guardianship in Colorado. Her extensive experience and knowledge can help you navigate this process with confidence. Watch the video and schedule a FREE consultation with Johnson Law Group today to discuss your specific situation and ensure the child's well-being. You can also give us a call at 720-445-4444 if you have any questions.


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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
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