Things to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for Your Minor Children
1. Where does the Potential Guardian live?
The children will end up moving in with the person you chose as guardian. In some situations the Guardian will have to make room for the children, or buy a new house. If the potential guardian lives out of town, you need to be comfortable with your children being raised in the town/city where the guardian lives. Your children will have to move far away from familiar environments (school, neighborhood, friends, etc.). How will your children adjust to a new environment? This consideration tends to be more important for parents of older children.
2. Potential Guardian’s Religious, Political, Moral Beliefs
While it is impossible to find someone who shares 100% of your religious, political, and/or moral beliefs, it is important to find a guardian who understands and shares your beliefs and values for the most part. Have a frank discussion with the potential guardian as to what religious and moral beliefs they will raise your children with.
3. Potential Guardian’s Parenting Skills
Find out the potential guardian’s views on child discipline, education, sports, and other activities (music, arts, etc..). If the potential guardian is not a parent already, then consider what you know about how the potential guardian was raised, since this will greatly influence how they will act as a parent. Ask the potential guardian their philosophy or approach to raising children.
4. Age of Potential Guardian
Older guardians may be in a better financial position, and may have more time to be hands-on with raising your children; but on the other hand, an older guardian may not be in touch with current trends in education and parenting, and what kids today want and like. The possibility of an older guardian getting ill or dying before children become adults is also greater. A younger guardian may not be set in their career and may not be able to give the time and attention needed by your children. On the other hand, they may be able to better communicate with your children and understand their likes and dislikes.
5. Potential Guardian’s Family Situation
Considering the potential guardian’s family situation is the key to understanding how this can influence the upbringing of your children. It is important to know that your children will be raised in a stable environment. Is the potential guardian a single parent, married with or without children, single without children? How stable is the marriage? Is the spouse ready to help the guardian raise your children? Knowing who the significant other of your guardian is or will be is also important because this person will also inevitably take on some responsibility in raising your children.
6. Your Children’s Preference
If your children are older, they may have formed attachments to certain family members or family friends.
7. Potential Guardian’s Financial Situation
Consider the potential guardian’s financial stability. Does the potential guardian have a stable job? Are they good with managing money? Do they have a spouse with a stable job? How do they manage to pay bills and get food on the table? Remember the Guardian and Trustee (person who holds purse strings for your children) do not have to be the same person.
8. Is the Potential Guardian Willing to Serve?
It is extremely important to ask the potential guardian if they will be willing to act as your children’s guardian. This is not the time to be shy or polite—your children’s lives are at stake, so you need to be upfront with the potential guardian and your other family members or friends. Don’t be worried about hurting someone’s feelings. What’s best for your children is on the line, so your choice of their guardian needs to be based on what’s really best for them, not what will make your family or friends happy.
It may seem overwhelming to consider all these factors when picking a guardian. Make a priority list with the above considerations, and add anything else to the list that is important to you or your situation. This will help you narrow down your choices. Making a “pros” and “cons” list may help you in choosing the right person to act as your children’s guardian. Don’t forget to name a backup guardian just in case the initial guardian cannot serve.
Keep in mind that the odds are that at least one parent will survive until your child is grown. However, as responsible and loving parents, choosing the guardianship of minor children is something that is necessary to protect your children in case something does happen.