Appoint a temporary agent - you do not need the court

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Community Legal Aid

You may not be able to care for your child for a short period of time because of work, sickness, or travel. To ensure someone is able to care for your child during that time, you may give someone permission to temporarily make decisions for your child. 

Are you looking to prepare for the care of your children in the event of an emergency? See Planning for a family emergency.

What is a temporary agent?

A Temporary Agent is a person you give the legal responsibility to care for and make important decisions for your child when you cannot.

Who can become a temporary agent?

A temporary agent must be at least 18 years old. You cannot make someone a temporary agent if the court has taken away someone’s right to make decisions for your child.

What is the difference between a temporary agent, caregiver, and a legal guardian?

A caregiver and guardian have very different rights and responsibilities. See Differences Between Caregivers and Guardians.

What types of decisions can a temporary agent make for my child?

You can give the temporary agent the power to make almost any decision that you can make for your child, like the power to:

  • Decide where your child lives, 
  • Make medical decisions,
  • Make educational decisions, and
  • Take money out of a bank account you have for your child.
What types of decisions can a temporary agent not make for my child?

You cannot authorize a temporary agent to agree to your child being adopted.

Can anyone besides a parent appoint a Temporary Agent?

Yes. A guardian of a minor child can appoint a Temporary Agent for the child.

Do I need the other parent’s permission to appoint a temporary agent for our child?

Yes. If you know where the other parent is or how to contact them, you will need to talk to them about appointing a temporary agent. If the other parent (called the “non-appointing parent”) can care for your child while you are unavailable, you will need their permission to authorize the temporary agent. They will need to fill out section 5 of the Temporary Agent Affidavit.

If you don't know where the other parent lives, or if that parent is unable to care for your child for any reason (ex. incarceration, poor health, or mental illness), you need not obtain that parent's signature.

Do I need to go to the court to authorize someone to be a Temporary Agent?

No, no one needs to go to or file anything with the court.

Does the temporary agent get custody of my child?

No, the temporary agent has the right to make decisions for your child which can include who your child lives with, but they do not have custody of your child.

Will I still be able to participate in decision-making for my child after appointing a temporary agent?

Yes, you still have a right to make decisions for your child after authorizing someone to be their temporary agent. You and the temporary agent will share the power to make decisions for your child. However, a temporary agent does not have the ability to decide if your child can be adopted.

What happens if I disagree with the temporary agent about a decision for my child?

In the event of a disagreement, the parent makes the final decision.

How long does the temporary agent have decision-making power?

A temporary guardian can be appointed for up to 60 days from the day the appointment was signed. You can also renew the appointment after the initial 60 days has ended.

Can I specify which decisions I do not want the temporary agent to make?

Yes. There is a specific spot on the first page of the Temporary Agent Affidavit where you can list what specific actions the temporary agent cannot take. For example, you could specify that the temporary agent does not have the authority to make decisions related to the mental health treatment of your child, or that they cannot access a specific bank account for your child.

How do I appoint a Temporary Agent to be able to make decisions for my child?

There is a form that you and the temporary guardian will need to complete called a Temporary Agent Affidavit, which you can access from the Beth Israel website with instructions.

The form requires that you, as the parent or guardian of the child, agree that whomever you name as the Temporary Agent has your permission to make decisions for your child.

In order to authorize the temporary agent, you must agree that the following are all true:

  1. There are no active court orders that would stop you from personally using the rights and responsibilities that you want the temporary agent to have.
  2. You are not using this form to 
    1. Get around any state or federal law,
    2. Get your child attendance at a particular school, or 
    3. Give back rights to a person whose rights have been terminated by the court.
  3. You are giving your permission freely and knowingly to provide for your children and not as a result of pressure, threats, or payments by any person or agency.

If all of those statements are true, you will need to sign the affidavit with two witnesses (who are not the temporary agent) present and a notary. Then, the temporary agent will sign the affidavit. You and the temporary agent should both keep a completed copy of the affidavit.

The temporary agent should provide the signed affidavit to your child’s providers and any other organizations where they will need to make a decision for your child.

When is a parent not able to appoint a Temporary Agent?

You may not appoint a Temporary Agent if:

  • your parental rights have been terminated,
  • you gave up your child for adoption voluntarily,
  • a court ordered your child to be placed in the custody of another person,
  • your child’s other parent is willing and able to take care of your child. In this case, the other parent can agree to the appointment of a Temporary Agent in writing.
If I change my mind, can I end or change the appointment?

Yes. A parent or guardian who appointed a Temporary Agent can end or change the appointment. You must notify anyone who was given the temporary agent affidavit in writing about the change or end of the authorization.  Ending an appointment is also called revoking or terminating. Changing an appointment is also called amending.

Note about Temporary Agents and Immigration

If you need a Temporary Agent because you are afraid that immigration enforcement may separate your family from your child, use a different form. See Planning for a Family Emergency: Temporary Agent.


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