2017 Maryland Family Law Updates

2017 Maryland Family Law Updates

On Sunday, October 1, 2017, the new laws that were passed by the Maryland General Assembly went into effect. The new laws included several new, family law related laws which could have an impact on domestic violence, child support and other Maryland family law cases. We have highlighted a few of them here for you.

If you believe you may be affected by these changes, contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC to find out how we may be able to help you.

(HB 293) Family Law – Divorce – Domestic Violence Order

This new law repeals a provision which provided that an order or decision in a domestic violence proceeding is inadmissible in a divorce proceeding; it also repeals a provision that prohibited a court from considering compliance with a domestic violence order as grounds for granting a limited or absolute divorce if they have met all the other requirements.

(HB 1047) Driver Improvement Program and Failure to Pay Child Support

The new law alters the assessment of points and penalties that are associated with the suspension of driving privileges of an individual who fails to attend a specified driver improvement program, or who is an obligor who is 60 days or more in arears with child support payments.

(HB 793) Family Law – Divorce – Restoration of Former Name

This new law authorizes the court to change a person’s name (when they file a motion requesting it) to the name given to them at birth or any name they choose within 18 months after a final divorce decree has been granted thus avoiding Maryland’s cumbersome name change requirements.

(HB 764) Requirement for Filial Support – Repeal

Adult children may no longer be required to contribute to the care and expense of their destitute parent. This law repeals Maryland’s filial support law, which under certain circumstances, required adult children to contribute to the expenses of their parents who were sick or unable to support themselves.

Under the former law, the Maryland Circuit Court and Maryland Assistant State’s Attorney could criminally charge an adult child who refused to provide financially for their parent(s).

Family law covers several topics including divorce, child support, child custody, and even issues of domestic violence. Sometimes, family law attorneys must help enforce unpaid child support orders, or advocate for clients who need protection orders from violent spouses. It is our goal to keep you informed when changes in the law occur that might have an impact on our clients’ cases.

Do you have questions about a family law case or a domestic dispute? Our Maryland family law attorneys are here to help you. Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC is a premier Annapolis-based family law firm. We offer compassionate and skilled representation to parents throughout Maryland. You are welcome to call 410-990-0090 or fill out the firm’s contact form.

Is There Any Requirement for Child Support Accountability in Maryland?

maryland child support lawyer

When a marriage ends in divorce and that couple has children, the parent who has primary residential custody is often/frequently the parent who receives child support from the non-custodial parent. We often hear a lot of grumbling from non-custodial parents about how much child support they are forced to pay, and about their suspicions about how the primary residential parent is spending the child support they receive. Occasionally a parent who pays child support will comment that when their child comes to visit, they mention that they need new shoes, or new clothes, or money to participate in a school event.

Non-custodial parents wonder why there is no accountability for how the receiving parent spends the money they receive. Further complicating the issue, a custodial parent might be driving a new car, or they may have moved into a new place leaving the non-custodial parent to scratch their head in wonder about where their money is going.

The challenge of requiring proof of how custodial parents spend child support

It would create a tremendous burden on the family court system if the parent receiving child support had to account for how they spend every dollar of child support they received. It would also be an invasion of that parent’s privacy to allow their ex to have access to their monthly financials just so that they can feel content that their money is being spent in a way that they approve.

Child support is intended to contribute to the child’s living expenses including food, clothing and shelter in such a way as to maintain a standard of living as comparable as possible to when the family was intact. Maryland uses Child Support Guidelines to calculate how much child support is paid and it is based on several factors, including each parent’s actual and adjusted monthly income (adjusted to account for previous child support obligations and alimony payments), work-related child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses and any other pertinent factors that the court might consider. MD Code Family Law §12–201

The custodial parent may have to spend some of the child support payment on housing expenses to afford accommodations large enough to house the child and his/her belongings. Children are expensive, and a non-custodial parent looking from the outside in might not be fully aware of the true costs of raising a child on one income.

What if you suspect spending irregularities?

In cases where the child looks unkempt, like they may be suffering from neglect, or like they might be living in unsafe conditions, or if you have evidence that the custodial parent is misappropriating the child support they receive, you can work with a family law attorney who will petition the court for an investigation.

While there is no requirement in Maryland that custodial parents account for the child support payments they receive from non-custodial parents, the paying parent does have legal recourse if they suspect that their child is being neglected despite their paying child support every month.

Are you a non-custodial parent who is feeling suspicious about how your child’s custodial parent is spending the child support you pay each month, an experienced Annapolis family law attorney from Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC can help. Please call us at 410.921.2422 to schedule a consultation, or complete our contact form. We proudly represent families throughout Maryland.

How to Challenge Paternity in Maryland When You Are Not the Father

annapolis maryland paternity attorney

If you are an unmarried man and your female partner has told you that you are the father of her child, but you are having doubts about it, there are steps that you can take to challenge paternity. If you are married and your wife has given birth to a child that you are certain is not yours, there is another process for de-establishing paternity.

In Maryland, when a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the father under the law. Your name will be automatically put on the birth certificate when the child is born, so if you are certain or have suspicions that you are not the child’s father, and you do not want to accept responsibility for the child, the sooner you challenge paternity, the less legally complicated the process becomes.

If you are an unmarried man, do not sign the birth certificate or any other document that acknowledges your paternity. If you have already signed, you have 60 days to rescind it.

DNA testing and paternity

The definitive way of determining paternity is through a DNA test, which the court may order if paternity is being challenged. DNA testing, while not 100% foolproof, is often an accepted and admissible form of evidence for the courts, and the tests are inexpensive and easy to administer. All you must do is take a swab from inside of your cheek and inside of the child’s cheek. You send the two swabs off to be tested and you will get the results in the mail.

Once you get the results of the DNA test you have a few options:

If the test shows that you are not the father, you can use the testing documentation to show the court that you are not the child’s father and you will not be obligated to pay child support for the child for the next 18 years (or longer). The court can then pursue the child’s father and compel him to fulfill his obligation to pay child support. If the actual father is interested, he can also pursue a parenting time arrangement with the child’s mother.

If you are indeed the father, you will then have to assert your paternity and then petition the court for a parenting time arrangement between you and the child’s mother. By asserting your paternity, you will then be obligated to paying child support to the child’s mother for your portion of the financial support for the child.

An experienced Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates will help you determine how much child support you might be expected to pay, and we can support you in de-establishing paternity if you are married to the child’s mother.

If you are considering challenging a paternity action because you are not the father of the child, our experienced family law attorneys can help. You are welcome to contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A. at 410.921.2422 or contact us to schedule a consultation with a skilled Annapolis family law attorney. We have the skills, experience and resources you want on your side and we will protect your rights when they are being infringed upon.

Stay Involved in Your Child’s Life after a Divorce

annapolis child custody lawyer in maryland

Divorce means the dissolution of the marriage, but when you have children your role as a parent will have to change after a divorce to comply with the laws. In Maryland, courts may grant primary residential custody to one parent over the other, which means that the child will live most of the time in that parent’s house. The other parent gets visitation or parenting time with the child. Sometimes, parents choose this arrangement themselves, as well.

As a non-custodial parent, where you can make the biggest difference in your child’s life – other than paying child support consistently – is to be involved in every aspect of your child’s life. Children thrive best when they can enjoy a healthy, bonded relationship with both parents.

Tips for non-custodial parents

Here are some things to consider about what makes a parent-child relationship work when you are a non-custodial parent:

  • Be involved in your child’s personal life. Just because your child does not live with you does not mean that you must be any less involved. Show interest in what interests them; know who their teachers are and attend parent-teacher conferences; show up for extracurricular events, games and exhibits. Your child wants to feel confident in the knowledge that you can be depended upon to show up and support their endeavors and dreams.
  • Model a healthy co-parenting relationship. Your child will benefit greatly when you and your former spouse can successfully pivot away from squabbling spouses to cordial co-parents. Discuss and agree on a consistent plan for discipline so that one parent does not end up feeling like the “bad cop,” and the other parent lets the child get away with everything. If it helps, think of your co-parent as a business partner. Dealing with your interactions in a cordial, professional manner helps keep emotions out of the picture.
  • Create a parenting plan and stick to it. Work with your co-parent and create a parenting plan that includes a visitation schedule, holidays, vacations, birthdays and other family or religious events. Make sure you stick to the parenting plan at all times. If the parenting plan is incorporated into the judgment of your divorce, it has the force and effect of a court order; violations of the plan can subject you to contempt proceedings and sanctions. Furthermore, your child will also benefit from a consistent schedule as will your relationship with your former spouse.
  • Keep communication open. When you cannot be with your child in person for a visit, make sure to speak with them on a regular basis. Try using Skype or Facetime or any other kind of video chatting platform so that you can see and interact with your child when you are not together. Remember that there is no intrinsic right of a parent to speak to your child with any specific frequency; however, your spouse cannot restrict the access you are guaranteed to your child by a court order or parenting plan. If the parenting plan addresses the amount of time you may speak with your child, failure on behalf of your former spouse to abide by that plan could cause him or her to face contempt charges.
  • Do not argue or fight in front of your child. Exercise as much self-control as you can muster up and avoid fighting and arguing in front of your child at all costs. Do not speak negatively about the other parent to your child, either. It does not foster a healthy relationship between your child and their other parent, and is likely to backfire in a myriad ways.
  • Keep your commitments. Show up when you are scheduled to show up. Uphold your end of the parenting plan. Keep your financial obligations. Do not allow disagreements with your co-parent to cloud your commitment to be a good parent to your child.

Even as a non-custodial parent you have the opportunity to have a positive, lasting impact in your child’s life and on the kind of person he or she will become. When you are willing to let go of your disagreements with your former spouse and agree to be the best parents possible for your child, it can only have beneficial results.

You are welcome to call 410.921.2422 or contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC to discuss your child custody questions in a no obligation consultation at our Annapolis office. We understand the needs of parents in divorce. Our Maryland family law attorneys can protect your interests.

Contempt of Court Proceedings in Maryland Family Law Disputes

maryland divorce law

After the divorce is finally over and the judge has signed the divorce decree, both parties are obligated to comply with the order, which has the force of law. Typically, most people do obey the court’s order (even if it is with some reluctance). However, there are those who take the law into their own hands and make the foolhardy choice of not complying with the judge’s orders. In these kinds of situations, there are several options when it comes to getting the other party to comply, depending on the nature of the issue. If efforts to get the at-fault party to comply with the judge’s orders continue to fail, he or she may be held in contempt.

What kinds of actions can lead to contempt of court?

Contempt, in the context of this discussion, indicates the intentional violation of a court order. Some examples of actions or failures to act that can lead to a person being held in contempt include:

  • Violation of the parenting time agreement
  • Failure to bring the children back to the other parent when visitation time is over
  • Failure to make an effort to require that the child visit the other parent in accordance with the parenting plan
  • Failure to pay child support or spousal support
  • Refusal to sign over or deliver property as ordered by the court

Bear in mind that holding a person in contempt is not something that the court takes lightly. It is considered the most severe remedy, and at times can actually serve to heighten a conflict. Civil contempt gives the party one last chance to comply with the court order. When the party has successfully satisfied the court’s requirement, the court lifts the sanction. In Maryland, if the court must use contempt proceedings to force compliance with custody or visitation, the court also has the option to assess attorney fees and court costs against the non-compliant party.

Maryland law allows spousal support orders and child support orders to be subject to automatic withholding. The payor parent’s employer withholds the amount of the monthly obligation, which is forwarded directly to the recipient of the child support or through the child support agency.

The moral to the story here is that it never makes sense to willfully violate a court order. If your ex-spouse is the offending party, you can work with your Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC Our Annapolis family law team is here to protect your child’s and your interests, and offer legal advice about your custody case. You are welcome to call 410.921.2422, or to contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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New York’s Redefinition of Parenthood Allows Visitation and Custody Rights to Non-biological Parents

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The highest court in the state of New York has just expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent, which will have far-reaching implications for all families in New York, but with special meaning for same-sex couples who are facing custody and visitation disputes. On August 30, 2016, the New York State Court of Appeals held that, “. . . where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody under Domestic Relations Law § 70.”

According to an article in the New York Times, the high court ruling emerged from a custody battle between a same-sex couple from Chautauqua County. Court papers identify them as Brooke S.B and Elizabeth A. C.C. The two began a relationship in 2006 and announced their engagement the next year. In 2008, Elizabeth was artificially inseminated and gave birth to the couple’s son, who took Brooke’s last name. Although Brooke was at the birth and cut the child’s umbilical cord, raised him along with his mother Elizabeth and maintained a close relationship with the boy, they did not share any biological or legal ties. When the couple ended their relationship in 2010, Elizabeth cut off Brooke’s contact with the child. When Brooke filed for custody and visitation, her petition was denied by a lower court due to the established legal precedent in the Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M., which ruled that, “in an unmarried couple, a partner without biological or adoptive relation to a child is not that child’s ‘parent’ for purposes of standing to seek custody or visitation under Domestic Relations Law § 70 (a).”

The high court ruling overturned Alison D., saying that, “. . . the definition of, ‘parent’ established by this Court 25 years ago in Alison D. has become unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships.” In light of same-sex marriages being legalized in New York 2011, and then the United States Supreme Court recognizing marriage equality in 2015, the Court has recognized that the formerly traditional composition of a family being a mother and father and their biological children is expanding and changing.

The Times article quoted Professor Nancy D. Polikoff, from American University Washington College of Law, who said, “Many courts have simply said that this person looks like a parent and cannot just eliminate them from the child’s life.”

Maryland same-sex couples already enjoy the benefits of this expanding legal viewpoint of parenthood. In July of 2016, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that non-biological parents can be considered de facto parents by the family court for purposes of custody and visitation (Conover v. Conover). A de facto parent might be the partner of a lesbian who gets artificially inseminated, a gay partner whose partner adopts a child from a country which does not allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly, or a straight man or woman who participates in raising a child without having gone through the formal adoption process.

Are you a non-biological parent who is going through a divorce, or someone who was never married to your partner, but has concerns about how custody of your child is being handled? An experienced and compassionate Annapolis family law attorney at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC is here to protect your child’s and your interests, and offer legal advice about your custody case. You are welcome to call 410.921.2422, or to contact us to schedule a consultation today.

Establishing Paternity in Maryland for a Child Born Out of Wedlock

annapolis child custody lawyer in maryland

A child born to a non-married couple is entitled to support from both parents. Establishing paternity in Maryland for a child born out of wedlock is an important step to ensure that your child spends time with both of his or her parents, and that both parents contribute financially to the child’s upbringing.

Benefits of establishing paternity

Maryland is one of 11 states that have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, which modernizes the law for determining the parents of children. An important feature of this law is that it shuns the term “illegitimate” and instead uses the phrase, “child with no presumed father.” The UPA and a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have invalidated laws that put children born out-of-wedlock at a disadvantage.

The People’s Law Library of Maryland lists the following benefits of establishing paternity:

  • Establishes a relationship between the father and child, and gives the child a sense of identity.
  • Allows the father’s name to be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Avoids the need to go to court.
  • Gives the father custody rights, visitation and to be consulted about adoption.
  • Gives the child the right to benefits from the father such as financial support, inheritance, social security, veteran’s benefits, and life and health insurance.
  • Makes it easier for the child to learn the father’s medical history, and benefit from the father’s health insurance.

Establishing paternity in Maryland

You can establish paternity in two different ways under Maryland law. The first option is through an Affidavit of Parentage form and the second option is through a court order. MD Code Family Law §5–1028. A father may complete an Affidavit of Parentage while the mother and baby are still in the hospital, allowing the dad’s name to appear on the child’s birth certificate. If you complete the form after leaving the hospital, both parents must sign the form in the presence of a Notary Public. Forms are available through the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene/Division of Vital Records and you can establish paternity using this process up until the child’s 18th birthday.

You may consult with a family law attorney before signing this form, and if you are not certain that you are the biological father of the child, do not sign the form.

Refusing to complete an Affidavit of Parentage does not also absolve a father from fulfilling his obligation to help provide financial support for his child as paternity can be established by the court through genetic testing. If the father refuses to submit to a genetic test, the court can order him to take the test. Both parents will be required to take the test, which only requires a swab of the inside of the cheek to gather a sample of saliva that will be used for DNA analysis.

The state of Maryland makes it abundantly simple for a father to step up and assert his paternity and enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with fatherhood. The child will benefit from the sense of knowing who they are and establishing a bond with both parents.

A Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, can be helpful if you are interested in establishing paternity and working out custody arrangements so that you can spend time with your child.

If you require the services of a Maryland family law attorney with your paternity case, we are here to help. When you work with the family law attorneys at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A., you enjoy the benefits of their more than 30 years of combined legal experience working on your behalf. Please take a moment now to contact us at 410.921.2422 to reserve a consultation today at our Annapolis-based office to discuss your case.

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Who Are Parenting Coordinators, and What is Their Role in Maryland Child Custody Cases?

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Custody battles – the fight between two parents over which one will obtain primary (or sole) custody of their child – are often fraught with a high level of conflict and emotion. Both parties may go back and forth trading insults, while each asserting that they are the best parent to be awarded primary residential custody of the child. Throughout all of the fighting, name-calling, slammed doors and veiled threats, the child is caught in between both parents. In Maryland, a parenting coordinator may assist parents after litigation has ended in these kinds of situations to make sure that both the best interests of the child and guidelines of the parenting plan agreement are taken into consideration when it comes time to make challenging decisions.

What is the role of the parenting coordinator in Maryland family law cases?

The role of the parenting coordinator is to serve as an intermediary between the courts and the co-parents in conflict. They serve as mediators between co-parents who are dealing with parenting issues, and they can serve as an arbitrator when the co-parents are unable to come to an agreement. The role of the parenting coordinator is outlined in Maryland Rule 9-205.2. The essence of their role is to “reduce the effects or potential effects of conflict on the parties’ child.” According to the law, parenting coordinators must be impartial. They are employed in various situations such as an initial action to determine custody or visitation, or an action to modify an existing order or judgment as to custody or visitation. There is no expectation of confidentiality as with an attorney-client or doctor-patient relationship between a parenting coordinator and their clients.

Who are parenting coordinators?

A parenting coordinator is a professional who might have a background in mental health services, social work or family law because of the mediation aspect. The law stipulates that a Parent Coordinator must be at least 21 years of age, hold a bachelor’s degree and a post-graduate degree and at least three years of related professional experience beyond the post-graduate work. They must be licensed in their specialty; have completed at least 20 hours of training in a family mediation training program which meets the requirements of Rule 17-106(b); and completed at least 40 hours of specialty training in an organization recognized by the American Bar Association or the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in addition to other specific requirements in the law.

Parenting coordinators can either be appointed by the court or hired independently by the parents of their own volition.

Statutory limitations for parenting coordinators

Under Maryland law, parenting coordinators are not allowed to communicate orally or in writing with the court about the case, they may not serve as an expert witness, and they do not have access to confidential information that is not already part of the case record.

The judge will develop a fee schedule for parenting coordinators and determine how and when they will be paid.

In a high-conflict custody case, parenting coordinators can educate the co-parents about the issues that they are confronting, and monitor the family situation to make sure that the custody order is being followed.

The primary goal of the parenting coordinator is to protect the child from the rampant conflict between the parents, but they also help the co-parents mediate minor disputes, facilitate productive communication and spend less time in court.

A compassionate Annapolis family law attorney at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC can represent your interests in your divorce and child custody disputes. If you are a parent considering the option of divorce, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help.

Watch What You Say on Social Media during Your Child Custody or Support Case

Divorce in a Time of Facebook

By now, we would hope that most people understand the ramifications of posting inappropriate comments on their social media profiles. When you are involved in a court proceeding as sensitive as a child custody hearing, you need to embrace the gravity of the situation, and remember that whatever you post online can potentially be used against you.

If you are fighting for custody, working amicably with your spouse through the stages of divorce, or trying to modify an existing court order for child support, there are a lot of emotions that come up for both sides. We understand that when you are involved in what feels like a losing battle, you may feel tempted to let off steam, and let the world know how you feel by posting something vindictive or disparaging on social media. Please be assured that this almost always backfires and has the opposite effect you might have been looking for.

Whatever you post on social media is fair game for the other side

Let’s use a hypothetical example of a father who has petitioned the court to modify his child support order, because he has become unemployed due to a debilitating disease. Yet at the same time, this father, who was supposed to be terribly ill and therefore unable to work, was maintaining a LinkedIn account and a Facebook profile where he was trying to attract clients for his home-based business. He shared pictures supposedly taken on his travels on Instagram and tweeting about his exciting lifestyle, even though that lifestyle may have been “embellished” a bit (or a lot). His petition to modify his child support was not approved because the court ruled that he could generate income through his home-based business while he was receiving treatments for his illness.

Furthermore, you cannot tell the court that you are unable to afford to pay child support while at the same time portraying yourself through pictures and videos online as someone who lives a lavish, extravagant life. Flaunting your material success and affluent lifestyle (alleged or actual) while claiming financial hardship will almost always backfire.

Social media is not the only dangerous technology

Posting pictures of your travels on Facebook is bad enough, but it is not the only situation that could get you in trouble. Again, let’s use a hypothetical: one evening while with your friends, you have a little bit too much to drink, and you are feeling fed up about the court battle. The next thing you know you start sending angry text messages to your former spouse. This is never a good idea. Those texts could end up as part of the court record, which can be used against you during the proceedings. They can also land you in hot water, so to speak, if they contain any language that might be construed as threatening to your spouse or your child.

To recap: No disparaging tweets, no drunken texts, no posting pictures of your lavish lifestyle if you are crying poor to the judge. In fact, the best advice is to take a complete hiatus from posting on social media until the case is resolved. You never know how a seemingly innocent photo or status update can be taken out of context and used against you. If your former spouse or partner tries to lure you in to a fight online, ask yourself if what you are getting ready to type is something that you would want the judge to see and take under consideration.

The family law attorneys at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, have more than 30 years of combined experience helping Maryland clients resolve their child custody and child support challenges. To reserve a consultation at our Annapolis office, please call 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form.

Important Changes to Maryland’s Adult Guardianship Laws

Adult guardianship

The Maryland State Bar Association defines a guardian as someone who has been appointed by the court to assume legal responsibility for another person, another person’s property or both. The duties of a guardian have been expanded, giving them additional duties and creating a process by which an adult child may petition a court to compel visitation with a parent.

Guardians are responsible for people who are disabled and are unable to make decisions with regard to their finances or medical care due to mental illness or physical disability. Guardianship arrangements are also made for minors whose parents have passed away, or for minors whose parents are unable to care for or make decisions on behalves. However, for the purposes of this article and the new law, we will be referring to Guardianship of the Person, which is adult guardianship arrangement.

The new law, Duties of Guardian of the Person and Visitation Between Adult Child and Parent, introduces new duties for a guardian of the person including the following:

  • To enforce the disabled person’s right to receive visitors, telephone calls, personal mail and electronic communications.
  • To let the disabled person’s family know if the disabled person has died or been hospitalized.
  • To inform the disabled person’s family about the funeral arrangements and the final resting place of the disabled person.
  • To file a petition on behalf of an adult child to compel visitation with a “proposed visitee” who is a parent of the adult child. (The law goes into explicit details about this process.)

A guardian can be a blood relative, a family friend or a public organization such as the Maryland Department of Social Services if a family member or another suitable candidate cannot be found to fulfill the role. A guardian of the person makes important decisions about the ward’s (the person being cared for) health care, their meals, housing and other necessities of life, while a guardian of the property makes decisions about the ward’s income, property and other issues with regard to finances.

The appointment of a guardian is ideally done before the ward becomes incapacitated. For example, if an elderly man or woman loses a spouse, and is then diagnosed with a degenerative disease which will leave them incapacitated, while they are still of sound mind, they might choose someone to handle their affairs. Parents who have a child with physical or mental disabilities might appoint a guardian for that child who would take over caring for them if they pass away. Choosing a guardian is an important decision which requires much consideration because a guardian has total control of all of the decisions that affect the person’s life.

Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, does not work with guardianship cases.