Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Relative Care Givers:
Establishing a legal relationship with new kin-children is a challenging, but vital process. Because most schools and hospitals require documentation to provide services to children, some form of legal relationship will ease the transition from biological parent to kin-parent.
Select from the tabs below for more information about legal options and assistance for Idaho kincare providers. For specific legal questions, contact an attorney.
A Power of Attorney is a voluntary agreement signed by a child’s parents giving another person (grandparent, brother, sister, etc.) the legal authority to care for and make decisions on behalf of a minor child. This legal document must be signed in front of a Notary Public in order to be valid. The Power of Attorney has a maximum length of three years when kincare relationships are involved. However, as this arrangement is voluntary, it can be revoked at any time by the child’s parent(s).
A Power of Attorney is cost effective because it does not require an attorney.
In addition to a Power of Attorney form, other documents can be helpful for getting medical treatment and registration in school. These include medical consent forms, immunization records, and copies of birth certificates.
A guardianship arrangement can be temporary, lasting up to six months or until a trial can take place to determine full guardianship; or permanent, with a court order suspending parental rights and granting those rights to a willing and capable person who has an interest in the child’s welfare. Once guardianship becomes permanent, only a court order will revoke the arrangement. This permanency provides stability for the child. Guardianship provides a higher degree of parental rights and protections than does the Power of Attorney.
The person seeking guardianship must show the court that the parent is unable to provide a fit home for the child. Some of the ways this can be proved are as follows:
- The child currently resides with the De Facto Guardian and not with the parents. A De Facto Guardian is defined as an individual who has been the primary caretaker and financial provider of a minor child. This relationship must exist for at least six months if the child is under the age of three or one year if the child is three years of age or older;
- The child’s parent has not had contact with the child for a significant period of time (weeks or months) without explanation. Idaho law states that if a parent fails to maintain a normal parental relationship for a period of six months, the child may be considered abandoned;
- The parent has been unable to maintain consistent employment; and/or
- The parent has many different partners or other people living in the parent’s home who may be a danger to the child.
Adoption is the most permanent of the three custodial arrangements. Once an adoption is completed, only rare circumstances will revoke it. If the court decides in favor of adoption, the adoptive parent becomes the child’s legal guardian with all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood by birth.
Adoption can be a challenging undertaking, though some relatives adopting children may be eligible for adoption assistance. For more information about the process of adopting a child in Idaho, please contact the Family and Children Services division at your local Department of Health and Welfare or call the 211 Idaho CareLine.
The Ada County Court Assistance Office’s website houses instructions and legal forms needed for filing kincare documents. Though these forms are designed for Ada County, most can be used by residents around Idaho.
Common Legal Forms:
- Parental Power of Attorney
- Instructions for Filing for Guardianship of a Minor
- Contact information for statewide court assistance offices
- Guardian Annual Report Form
If you need further assistance, you can contact the court assistance office in your county.
All court-appointed guardians must file an annual review, detailing the child’s last year with the guardian. One way to accomplish this is to use the Idaho Legal Aid Services simulated interview program. This program auto-fills answers to questions in the proper court form, which then must be filed at court.
If possible, you should consult a family attorney about kincare proceedings. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to pay an attorney to review your case before it goes to trial for a fixed or reduced cost. Contact the Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service (208-334-4500) for more information about this option. For information on no cost attorneys, see Pro-Bono (No Cost) Legal Services tab.
- Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program
Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program, organized by the Idaho State Bar Association, provides legal counsel to low-income families who cannot afford to hire an attorney. If accepted, clients will pay some associated costs, but will not pay for the lawyer’s services. Eligibility is dependent on income and case type.
- Idaho Legal Aid
Idaho Legal Aid provides free legal services and community education to low income Idahoans. Eligibility is based on income and case type.
- Senior Legal Hotline
Senior Legal Hotline is a service provided by Idaho Legal Aid. Low-income seniors over the age of 60 can call the hotline for free legal advice. Eligibility is based on client age, case type, and income.