In Arizona, the terms used for the different types of Guardianships are very confusing and misleading. We hope this will help you navigate your options.
First, there are two forms of guardianship: Title 14, which are revocable guardianships by consent of the parent, and Title 8, which are more permanent guardianships often resulting from a dependency petition. At Stuart & Blackwell we have a strong understanding of both forms of guardianships that can be established under Arizona law and we can provide advice and guidance on which form would best suit your needs.
Title 14, Voluntary Guardianships
This can happen in one of two ways. First, the parent or parents can sign a consent to the Guardianship which gets filed with the Court. Second, the petitioner can serve the parent(s) with the Petition and Notice of Hearing. If the parent either chooses not to appear and contest the Guardianship or chooses to appear and consent to it, then the Guardianship can be granted. Even within the Title 14 Guardianship, there are three different types:
- Emergency Temporary Guardianship: This is the most temporary and can be granted without notice to the parents, but the court will set a hearing and will require Notice of the hearing be served on the parents, unless a consent for the Guardianship can be obtained.
- Temporary Guardianship: This Guardianship lasts no longer than 6 months. There are no exceptions. This option should ONLY be used if you are sure the parent(s) will be ready and able to provide the care for their children within that timeframe.
- Permanent Guardianship: This is still voluntary, but will automatically renew each year when the Guardian files an Annual Report with the court. Despite its name, this Guardianship is still temporary in nature because the parents reserve the right to revoke.
In any type of Title 14 Guardianship, the parent(s) reserve the right to revoke the guardianship. To revoke the guardianship the parent must request a hearing and appear before the court. Despite the confusing names, Title 14 guardianships are temporary by design. For grandparents or other family members caring for children on a temporary basis, a Title 14 guardianship provides the caregiver with the ability to enroll a child in school and obtain medical care, health insurance, and public assistance. This type of Guardianship only temporarily infringes on parental rights. This is often a good middle ground for a client (such as grandparent clients) to suggest to their children without alienating them. Another benefit of this option is that the Department of Child Safety (DCS) isn’t involved in the case.
Title 8, Permanent Guardianships
In rare cases, it remains possible for the Court to reconsider, revoke, or amend the permanent guardianship. The parents would have to prove to the Court that they are able to provide for their children’s care and that they are fit and proper to do so. Title 8 guardianships offer a stable placement for children involved in the dependency system, without resulting in the termination of parental rights. However, Title 8 guardianships lack many of the benefits of adoption, such as legal permanency and the child’s eligibility for the Arizona Adoption Subsidy. Guardianship subsidy may be available under a Title 8 guardianship, but at a lower amount than the adoption subsidy.