Understanding Juvenile Law Issues

There are many unexpected and unplanned events in a parent's life that can prevent a parent from being able to take full custodial care of their child or children. As a family member, stepparent or grandparent, you may be the best option to take care of the child or children. When an event like this happens, it is wise to consult an experienced family law attorney about your best next steps.

What Is Juvenile Law?

Juvenile Law covers a myriad of issues, namely: truancy, CHIPS and JIPS cases, termination of parental rights, adoptions, and guardianships.

Why Petition For Guardianship?

Parents can be unable to care for their children for a limited, extended or indefinite amount of time. This lapse in their ability can be caused by a wide variety of events, some of them life choices and others trauma or tragedy. These events include but are not limited to:

  • The temporary or long-term incarceration of a parent
  • The parent seeking to become drug-free
  • The parent's abandonment of the child or children
  • One or both parent's deaths from disease, drugs, suicide or other trauma

Family members, grandparents and stepparents can seek custody of the child/ren once the termination of parental rights has been established. Guardians may then choose to pursue adoption. Speak to a qualified lawyer about your situation and the best way to proceed.

What Determines Guardianship

When parents are no longer able to care for and raise their children, another family member or grandparent may seek temporary or permanent child guardianship. To determine whether or not to grant juvenile guardianship the court reviews many factors including:

  • If the child or children are in need of child protective services (CHIPS) or have been in such placement for a year or more
  • If the person nominated as the child's juvenile guardian is a relative; if so, the court will ask whether the child/ren will be able to stay with that relative until the child turns 18
  • Whether or not it is in the child's best interest to terminate the parental rights
  • If the child/ren's parent or parents are "neglecting, refusing or unable to carry out the duties of a juvenile guardian"
  • Whether or not the agency responsible for providing services to the child has acted responsibly and attempted to return the child/ren to the home

Children In Need Of Protective Services Hearings (CHIPS)

The initial phase of the process determines whether the child/ren is in need of protective services. If the child/ren is found to be in need of protective services, the court then addresses any conditions or expectations to be placed on the parents. Our family law attorneys offer experienced guidance and legal counsel for those facing CHIPs hearings.

Answering Your Questions

If you have been asked to assume the role of guardianship for a child or children, or you desire to fulfill that role for a family member, speak with a family law professional. At D'Angelo & Grabow, we will walk you through the process, answer your questions and show you the options you have. Call today at 262-278-0987 or email us and we will be in touch with you. Serving Waukesha, Milwaukee and clients throughout southeastern Wisconsin.