Becoming a legal guardian ?

Does anyone have any experience of becoming a legal guardian?

Background, we have a friend of the family, who is currently 14. Her mum is a single parent (with sole custody), and she has an older brother who is currently 20 and in full-time education. The only other family she has in the UK is her biological father, who she has very little contact with, and he does not have custody.

I have built up a great bond with her over the last few years, to the point that she refers to me as her dad. I treat her as if she was my daughter.
We have a good relationship with her mum also.

I'm aware that if anything happened to her mum, things could get messy for her.
I'm considering suggesting to become her legal guardian, so have been researching it. Info here says "A legal guardian is an individual who you grant the legal authority to care for your child in the event of your death (and the death of anyone else with parental responsibility)"

I'm aware of the potential practical and financial implications, and happy with that.

Can anyone offer advice, based on experience, if this is a sensible thing to consider?

Comments

  • TonyMMM
    TonyMMM Posts: 3,373
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Forumite
    alan_d said:
     The only other family she has in the UK is her biological father, who she has very little contact with, and he does not have custody.

    Custody isn't really relevant - does he have parental responsibility ?
  • alan_d
    alan_d Posts: 363
    First Anniversary First Post Mortgage-free Glee!
    Forumite
    TonyMMM said:
    alan_d said:
     The only other family she has in the UK is her biological father, who she has very little contact with, and he does not have custody.

    Custody isn't really relevant - does he have parental responsibility ?
    AFAIK, no, but I'd need to confirm.
  • TonyMMM
    TonyMMM Posts: 3,373
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Forumite
    edited 19 October 2023 at 11:07AM
    Is he named on her birth certificate ?
  • alan_d
    alan_d Posts: 363
    First Anniversary First Post Mortgage-free Glee!
    Forumite
    TonyMMM said:
    Is he named on her birth certificate ?
    Checked, yes.
    The relationship with her mother went downhill after she was born.
    So, in that case, if something happened to the mother, he would (have to) support her - even though he doesn't currently?
  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,582
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    alan_d said:
    TonyMMM said:
    Is he named on her birth certificate ?
    Checked, yes.
    The relationship with her mother went downhill after she was born.
    So, in that case, if something happened to the mother, he would (have to) support her - even though he doesn't currently?
    I've no personal experience, but from what I've read, if the mother unfortunately were to die tomorrow, then at the age of 14 a great deal of weight would be placed on what the child herself actually wanted to happen - whether that would be for her biological father, elder brother, yourself or social services to take on the role of being her primary carer. 
  • alan_d
    alan_d Posts: 363
    First Anniversary First Post Mortgage-free Glee!
    Forumite
    edited 19 October 2023 at 11:32AM
    OK, good to know.
    She's a very mature young lady (who doesn't take any BS), so in that scenario, she could have a sensible discussion with the relevant people to come to an appropriate arrangement.
    No need for me to do anything then.
    Thanks for your help.
  • Gavin83
    Gavin83 Posts: 8,727
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Forumite
    alan_d said:
    TonyMMM said:
    Is he named on her birth certificate ?
    Checked, yes.
    The relationship with her mother went downhill after she was born.
    So, in that case, if something happened to the mother, he would (have to) support her - even though he doesn't currently?
    I've no personal experience, but from what I've read, if the mother unfortunately were to die tomorrow, then at the age of 14 a great deal of weight would be placed on what the child herself actually wanted to happen - whether that would be for her biological father, elder brother, yourself or social services to take on the role of being her primary carer. 
    Is that actually the case? I appreciate if the parents are separated the child of that age can largely determine who they live with but if there's only one person with parental responsibility does that choice exist? If I was 14 AFAIK I couldn't choose to leave home and go and live with a friend and to leave home I'd need parental permission. The police would pick me up and return me home.

    Admittedly it's not an area I know much about so looking for information/confirmation more than anything.

    As her surviving parent he would have an obligation to support her, which would include her living with him. However from my understanding of legal guardianship this would only kick in if both parents were dead. So even if you set it up and her mum passed away the guardianship would still be on hold. I believe the only way you could achieve a level of parental responsibility is to adopt her but in that case you'd need the fathers permission too.
  • bouicca21
    bouicca21 Posts: 6,492
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Forumite
    It would be useful if the mother made a will, not only ensuring the child’s inheritance but expressing a wish that OP gets custody.
  • She could remain with you but you would need this to be under a private fostering arrangement if she were under the age of 16.

    Looking after someone else's child - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
    Been around since 2008 but somehow my profile was deleted!!!
  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,229
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    One thing that the mother can govern in her will is who the trustees (i believe this needs to be more than one) are for any money inherited by a minor.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.1K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards