Resignation of a guardian

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You may have decided that a relative should be guardian of your children because you were not able or available to take care of them.  You may have agreed that the relative should be appointed guardian by signing an assent to the guardianship, or a judge may have appointed the relative to be the guardian for your child without your agreement.

Now, perhaps the guardian of your child states that they no longer want to serve as the guardian and are planning to resign. Or, maybe you do not think the current guardian is the best person to take care of your child.

In these cases, you may be able to ask the court to appoint a new guardian. 

If you are instead looking to end the guardianship, see How to end a guardianship of a minor.

My child’s guardian told me that they do not want to be a guardian anymore. Can they do that?

Yes, a guardian may choose to stop being the guardian for your child.

How does a guardian ask the court to resign?

A guardian would need to go to court and file a Petition to Resign as Guardian of a Minor. The petition requires the guardian to say:

  1. That they are the guardian or guardians of the child listed in the name of the case. They must also list their name, address, and telephone number.
  2. The guardian wants to resign, and either:
    1. The guardian thinks that the parent is able to care for their child again, so the child should be returned, OR
    2. The guardian thinks someone else should be appointed as a new guardian for the child.
  3. Who the guardian would want appointed as a guardian instead of them. Note: the guardian does not have to pick someone to replace them.
  4. That they want a hearing on their petition to be held.

Once the guardian completes this petition, they will need to file it with the court. Then, the guardian needs to send copies to the parents of the child and the child if they are over 14 years old. After everyone has received a copy, the court will set a hearing date to discuss the petition. 

Does the guardian have to explain why they want to resign?

Yes. The petition lists three categories of reasons:

  1. The person cannot continue to serve as guardian.
  2. The parents can now resume their parental responsibilities.
  3. Other reasons, which gives the guardian space to explain why they want to resign
What does a guardian need to do to resign?

The guardian must complete the petition form and bring it to the Probate and Family court in the county where the child lives to file it. Then, the court should give the guardian a date when their petition will be heard by a judge.

The guardian is then required to give “notice” to all of the people who would be involved in the guardianship case. Notice means that all of the parties in the case receive a copy of the petition form and are told when the court hearing on the petition will take place. In some counties, the court sends out a Notice of Hearing, which tells the parties when the petition will be heard in front of a judge. However, sometimes the court will ask the guardian to fill out the Notice of Hearing and send it to each of the parties.

Typically, a guardian must notify:

  1. The minor child if they are over 14 years old,
  2. The co-guardian, if there is one,
  3. The parents of the minor child, and
  4. Any other person that the court has ordered be given notice.

The guardian can provide notice by mailing a copy of the petition, and if needed, a copy of the Notice of Hearing, to each of the parties listed above.

What happens at the court hearing after filing a petition to resign as a guardian?

The judge will want to hear from the guardian and the parent/parents of the child. The judge will start by hearing from the guardian about why they no longer want to be the guardian. For example, the guardian could say that they have a long-term illness and are no longer able to care for the child.

The judge will next hear from the party that did not file the petition, such as the parent, and ask what their opinion is on the petition. For example, the parent may say that they agree that the person is too sick to care for their child and ask the court to appoint a new guardian.

The parent could also state that they believe they are ready to parent their child again because they have made a positive change in their life. For more information on parents ending a guardianship and regaining custody, see How to end a Guardianship of a Minor.

How does the court actually accept the guardian's resignation?

The court accepts the guardian's resignation at a court hearing. If the judge decides that the guardian should resign, they will complete a court form called a Decree and Order of Termination of Guardianship on a Petition for Resignation.

On the Decree and Order, the court can write:

  • if the parent or parents can resume parental responsibility,
  • why the guardian is no longer able to serve,
  • whether someone else is being appointed to be guardian, or
  • if a co-guardian will continue to serve.
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