Is it ever possible to get permanent guardianship of a grandchild?

By Mary Ann Burmester
January 19, 2017

Yes. In fact, in family law in general, a lot of times temporary orders end up being permanent in the sense that if nobody goes to court to change or end the arrangement, it lasts through the child's minority up until the child is legally emancipated. It's typically age 18.

But the process is, you first have to ask. You file a petition to be appointed guardian of the child, and that petition is going to involve a longer hearing, more evidence, and more witnesses. It won't be set for a court date for six or 10 months, or 12 months, down the road. In the meantime, you're asking the judge to say, until you get to look at the overall case, I need to be able to make decisions about the child now, so can you please appoint me as the temporary guardian. That's why we have that temporary step, so that there's someone with legal authority over the child until the court can rule on what should happen on a longer-term basis.

Mary Ann Burmester is a family lawyer practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has more than 25 years of experience in family law. To learn more about Mary and her firm, NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC, visit

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January 19, 2017
Categories:  FAQs

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