Guardianship of children
When guardianship ends
When and how does guardianship end?
Guardianship ends when the child:
- turns 18, or
- gets married, enters into a civil union, or lives with someone as a de facto partner (if the child is 16 or 17, they need written permission from their guardian).
Guardianship also ends if a guardian:
- is removed by the court, or
- was appointed for a specific time period and the period ends, or
- was appointed for a specific purpose and the purpose is achieved.
Note: Guardianship has been described as a “dwindling right”. This means that even though guardianship may not have legally come to an end, as a child gets older and gains in maturity and understanding, their views become more important and the rights of a guardian to make decisions for the child decrease.
Removal of guardians by the courts
When can a parent be removed as a guardian?
The Family Court can remove a guardian if:
- for some very serious reason the person is unfit to be a guardian, or
- the person is unwilling to be a guardian, and
- the removal will be in best interests of the child.
In practice, this means that there will have to be a very serious reason before a parent is removed as a guardian.
Removing a testamentary, court-appointed, or additional guardian
When it comes to removing a testamentary guardian, court-appointed guardian, or new spouse or partner as an additional guardian, the only question is whether the removal will be in the best interests of the child.