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New law restricts probate courts' power to appoint guardians

Children are no longer children when they reach the age of 18. With the exception of consuming alcohol, people in Connecticut arrive at all adult privileges on the 18th birthday. Before then, however, someone must be legally responsible for their behavior and well-being, and those people are traditionally the parents of the child.

Sometimes, parents are not available because they are deceased, imprisoned or considered unfit to be directly responsible for their children. Probate courts in Connecticut are empowered to determine the best legal guardian for children in this situation, but problems in the past have just led to a change in the law from Hartford.

Starting with this new year, probate courts will no longer be able to create their own motion to declare a guardian for a minor who needs one. This restriction of their authorities comes after concerns of abuse and neglect among some previously court-appointed guardians as well as an investigation by Connecticut's Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Relations of the child in question, the child's attorney or a person already in physical custody of the child will now be the only individuals permitted to file a motion for guardianship of a minor. Activists hope this will mean more involved parties in the process, and therefore, fewer dangers to children needing help.

People with a petition to file for guardianship may always consult an attorney on the best way to go about their trip to probate court. Legal representation may be a useful addition to one's mission to improve the life of a child who needs a guardian.

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