A legal guardian is a person whom the law recognises as having all the duties, powers, rights and responsibilities in relation to the upbringing of a child. Legal guardians contribute to the child's intellectual, emotional, physical, social, cultural and personal development of a child. They therefore have the responsibility of making very important decisions in a child's life.

Important guardianship decisions can include which school the child will go to, where the child will live, any medical treatment for the child, their culture, language and religion, or deciding the child's name or any proposed changes to the name. Guardianship is governed by the Care of Children Act 2004. Guardianship does not determine who has the role of providing day to day care of the child.

The natural parents are usually the legal guardians of the child but this is not always the case. There are a number of different types of guardianship:

  • natural guardians
  • court appointed guardians (such as grandparents or extended family members)
  • new partners appointed as guardians by the child's parents
  • testamentary guardians
  • guardianship of the court.

If a child in your family needs a guardian appointed, Brookfields can help you through this process. If there is a dispute between guardians about an important decision affecting your child's life, we can advise you as to options and help you work out a solution. If all else fails, Brookfields can help you with any court proceedings relating to the dispute. Advice at an early stage may help to avoid later escalation of the issues.

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The contents of this publication are general in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice on a specific matter. In the absence of such advice no responsibility is accepted by Brookfields for reliance on any of the information provided in this publication.


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