Kinship Care – Relatives Raising Children

Kinship Care – Relatives Raising Children

Article by Erika Salerno

Kinship care can be an integral part of helping parents provide care for children. A parent may leave children with a grandparent while he or she is sent overseas, or an aunt may care for nephews whose parents are ill or otherwise unable to care for them. In this type of arrangement, the legal custody of the children remains with the parents, and parents can legally take back their children at any time. Kinship caregivers in these circumstances may have difficulty enrolling the children in school, obtaining health insurance, authorizing medical care, and accessing other benefits because they do not have legal custody of the children. An informal solution involves the parents signing a power of attorney to delegate parental authority to the caregiver for 180 days. MCL 700.5103, amended by 2016 PA 483 (eff. Mar 29, 2017). The power of attorney can address such problems as medical decisions during physical separation of a parent and a child without the cumbersome procedures that accompany a court appointment.

However, in certain circumstances, a delegation of parental authority for more than 180 days is permitted. Specifically, a parent or guardian serving in the armed forces who is deployed to a foreign nation may provide that the delegation of parental powers be effective until the 31st day after the end of the deployment. MCL 700.5103(3), renumbered from (2) by 2016 PA 483 (eff. Mar 29, 2017).

If a parent leaves a child with a grandparent, other relative or adult without signing a power of attorney, the care provider should either pursue a power of attorney or, if the placement is anticipated to be more long-term, consider filing for guardianship of the child. Guardianship is extremely important if it is anticipated that the child will be with the caregiver on a more long-term basis. Once a caregiver obtains guardianship of the child, the caregiver strengthens their legal rights to a potential custody action for the child. Regardless of the situation, whether short-term or long-term, it is important for parents and caregivers to discuss their expectations and provide the appropriate legal authority to obtain care for the children.

Posted on April 05, 2017
Tagged as Family Law