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What are the factors for establishing permanent guardianship?

Under Oklahoma law, a court can establish guardianship on a permanent basis between a child and another adult, including a blood relative such as grandparents, if it is in the child’s best interests and several other factors are met.

One factor that must be met is that the child must have been adjudicated by the court as being deprived. Another factor involves the child’s birth parents. A child’s parents must have had their rights as parents terminated, been adjudicated incapacitated or incompetent, failed to take steps to remedy the conditions surrounding the situation that has left the child deprived, abandoned the child, agreed to the guardianship, passed away or are unable to be located or identified.

If the child is of an age and ability to consent to the guardianship, they must do so. The guardian must be able and willing to provide for the child’s financial and emotional needs. This includes preparing the child to function as an independent adult.

In addition, the guardian and the child must not need preventive services or protective supervision. The guardian must agree that the child will not be returned to their parent’s care, or the care of any other adult who was responsible for the child, without court approval. Finally, the child must be living with the guardian for six months or more prior to permanently establishing guardianship or the proposed guardian must be a relative with an existing relationship with the child.

If these factors are met, the court can establish the adult as the permanent guardian of the child. Pursuing a guardianship action can help minor children grow up in a supportive and loving environment that will provide for their physical, mental and emotional needs.