Guardianships are legal arrangements that ensure a vulnerable adult or minor child has someone watching out for their best interests.
However, considering the nature of a guardian’s duties, it is not unusual for conflicts to arise when parties disagree over the care the person subject to the guardianship receives. Should there be a dispute, the following tips can help families resolve it.
Clarify roles and expectations
Many arguments about guardianship arise from misunderstandings about the role of a guardian.
Therefore, reviewing the obligations and duties of a guardian may be the easiest way to clear up an argument. Generally, guardians make personal decisions on behalf of the person subject to the guardianship, including where they live and how to keep them safe and healthy.
Note that guardianship is not the same as conservatorship, which is a financial relationship.
Mediation is a process through which parties work with a neutral person who facilitates a resolution of the dispute.
This approach can be the best option for families because:
- Mediation can preserve familial relationships by prioritizing effective communication over arguments in court.
- Mediation is often less costly and faster than going to court. In many guardianship cases, parties are concerned about time and money, so resolving disputes quickly and efficiently can be best.
- Mediation makes it easier to find creative solutions to complicated issues.
The benefits of mediation can prove to be quite valuable. As such, it is typically an option worth considering when guardianship disputes arise.
Change the guardianship
If a guardian fails to perform their duties, seeking a change can be crucial. The courts might appoint an additional guardian, or replace the guardian with someone else, or even multiple people, depending on the circumstances.
This may not be a conflict-free process, but it can be easier when parties focus on what is in the best interests of the person subject to guardianship. Further, being a guardian can be stressful and overwhelming, which could make it a relief for a guardian to receive support or even to get replaced.
Proceed with compassion
Guardianship disputes can be highly emotional, and often these emotions fuel negative energy.
However, when parties focus on protecting those they care about and finding practical solutions rather than “winning,” it can be easier to resolve guardianship disputes more peacefully.