The process of appointing a guardian for your minor children varies by jurisdiction. In Ontario, the Children’s Law Reform Act provides authority for parents to appoint one or more individuals as a guardian for their minor child(ren). The appointed legal guardians will resultingly enjoy the rights and responsibilities of a parent with respect to the child(ren).
What is a Legal Guardian?
Parents have the legal authority and responsibility of caring for their children, as their legal guardians. If a minor child has two parents, they are both considered to be the child’s legal guardians. If one parent dies, the surviving parent becomes the child’s sole legal guardian. However, if both parents die, and they have a legally binding Will(s), the child’s guardian will be appointed in the Will(s).
How does this process work in Ontario?
Before you appoint an individual to become the legal guardian of your child(ren), you will need to speak with them to ensure they are willing to accept this responsibility. Once the individual has agreed, you are then able to insert them into your Will.
It is important to note that the appointment in your Will is only valid up to 90 days after your death. As such, the individual you appointed in your Will to be the legal guardian of your minor child(ren) must apply to the Court within 90 days to obtain an Order granting them permanent legal guardianship of your child(ren).
What happens when you die without a Will?
There are several issues that can arise if you die without a will, especially when you have minor children. For instance, the Court has no knowledge of your wishes for your minor child(ren) or whether you wanted to appoint a specific person as the legal guardian of your minor child(ren).
Why is it important to appoint a guardian for your minor child(ren)?
When you appoint a legal guardian for your child(ren), the Court will know exactly who you, the child(ren)’s parent, believe would be best suited for the role. As such, the Court will then be able to refer to your Will when considering the best interests of your child(ren).
How to choose a legal guardian for your minor child(ren)?
There are several factors to consider when deciding who to appoint as your child(ren)’s legal guardian. Below are some important questions to consider when making your decision.
- Does your child(ren) have a relationship of trust with this individual?
- Does this person have the capacity to care for your child(ren) if anything were to happen to you in the near future?
- Does this individual have children of their own?
- Is this individual financially and emotionally prepared to raise children?
- Will this individual raise your child(ren) with your beliefs, values, etc.?
Contact Nussbaum Law today and talk to one of our qualified lawyers to discuss your options.