Whether you need to care for an older special needs child or an elderly parent, here’s a basic guide about what you need to know regarding guardianship proceedings in Colorado, so you will be prepared and ready to meet the process mindfully.
First, in order to get your request for guardianship considered, you must file a petition with the District Court in the county in which the subject of your guardianship request lives. Guardianship requests can be made on behalf of children and mentally and/or physically incapacitated adults.
You must pay the appropriate filing fees for your petition. That fee is $164 in most Colorado counties, and it must be paid when you file the petition. Sometimes, the fee can be waived if you are financially unable to pay it, and if you submit the appropriate affidavit to support this request.
If you’re filing for guardianship over an incapacitated adult, you must accompany your petition with medical information on that adult’s condition, written and signed by a qualified doctor or psychologist.
A court visitor will then be appointed to meet with you, the candidate for guardianship, and anyone else who has information that’s potentially pertinent to the guardianship discussion. You must pay the visitor an hourly fee, which varies from county to county; typically, the rate ranges from $25 to $75 an hour. The visitor will file a report with the court with recommendations regarding the guardianship, based on information he or she gathered from these interviews.
The court will then schedule a hearing on the petition, notice of which must be personally served to the potential ward. All other interested parties may be served notice of the hearing by mail, although in-person serving is also allowable.
All parties to the petition must attend the hearing, including the potential ward, unless the court excuses him or her for good cause, such as a medical emergency.
If the court grants the guardianship, the new guardian must give notice of the guardianship to the ward within 30 days of being appointed that person’s guardian.
The new guardian must file a personal care plan for the ward with the court within 90 days of being appointed. This plan must include financial arrangements for the ward as well as a detailed inventory of the ward’s estate.
A child who is 12 years old or older can file a petition for guardianship and request a particular adult to be named as guardian. The court will investigate proposed guardians for minor children to assess:
- Their ability to provide care, physically and financially;
- Their existing relationship with the child;
- Their criminal background, if any.
The court will consider the results of this investigation along with the child’s wishes before the judge rules. In general, the older the child, the more the court will consider his or her personal preferences.
The court typically decides most cases within six to eight weeks after the filing date. It may grant a temporary guardianship if the prospective ward needs care during the court process.
In the case of adult wards, a guardianship arrangement is usually permanent. However, the court will likely periodically review the case. In the case of child wards, the guardianship arrangement ends when the ward gets adopted, becomes legally emancipated, becomes financially self-supporting, joins the military or turns 19.
For insight and practical help with your Colorado guardianship questions, please call or email our legal team today to schedule a free, confidential consultation about your next steps.