Who is a Guardian?April 25, 2011
Interest at Closing TimeJune 18, 2011
Becoming a guardian of a child comes with a series of rights and responsibilities that are very significant in the life of the child. Where there is more than one guardian, the Family Law Act, the legislation in Alberta that deals with guardianship of children, requires that the guardians work together and cooperate with each other when they exercise the responsibilities and entitlements of guardianship.
Obtaining guardianship requires that an adult take on a number of responsibilities towards a child. The guardian has the responsibility to nurture the child’s physical, psychological and emotional development, with the aim of guiding the child towards independent adulthood. In addition, the guardian has the very practical responsibility of ensuring that the child has the necessaries of life, including medical care, food, clothing and shelter.
While the guardian carries these heavy responsibilities, he or she also has the right to exercise a number of powers in relation to the child that are set out in the Family Law Act. Those powers include the following:
- to make the day to day decisions about the child and supervising the child’s daily activities;
- to decide where the child will live, whether moving within Medicine Hat or outside the City;
- to decide the nature and extent of the child’s education;
- to make decisions about the child’s culturally, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing;
- to determine who the child will live and associate with;
- to decide whether the child should work and what type of work the child should do;
- to consent to medical, dental and health-related treatment;
- to consent to any matter which, by law, requires the consent of a guardian;
- to receive any notice that a guardian is entitled to receive by law;
- to commence, defend or settle an legal proceedings relating to a child;
- to appoint a person to act on behalf of the guardian in an emergency or where the guardian is not available;
- to receive all health, education or any other information that affects the child.
Taking on the guardianship of a child is not a decision that one should enter lightly or without great consideration. It will mean a major change in the life of both the adult and the child for whom they become a guardian.