The Madison County Probate Court has jurisdiction over Temporary Guardianships of minors. The Probate Court does not hear custody cases. Below is information related to the filing of Temporary Guardianship of a minor in Madison County, GA.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING TEMPORARY GUARDIANSHIP PETITIONS IN MADISON COUNTY
· Petitioner should be the person who will be serving as the temporary guardian.
· Minor MUST be in the physical custody of the petitioner, residing in Madison County and said minor being under the age of 18 (Petitions for temporary guardianship must be filed in the county where the petitioner and minor are living). The minor MUST be in the physical custody of the Petitioner when the petition is filed with the Court.
· A copy of the minor’s birth certificate must be included with the petition.
· The natural mother and father must sign (or be properly served with) the relinquishment of rights form included with the petition even if the father’s name does not appear on the minor’s birth certificate. The signatures MUST be notarized at the time of the signing. If both parents do not sign relinquishment, he and/or she must be properly served. If their address is known, service must be made by the Sheriff of the county in which they are located (if in the state of GA). If a party to be served has a known address outside the state of GA, service must be made by certified mail. If their address is unknown, service must be perfected by publication in the Madison County Journal, which is the Legal Organ of Madison County, for two weeks. Furthermore, if the address of a party to be served is unknown a DILIGENT SEARCH AFFIDAVIT must be completed.
· Before filing the petition, all pages must be completed by the petitioner or their attorney. If handwritten, the writing should be legible and in ink. After completing the petition, the petitioner should present the petition to the court with the consent form for a background check / criminal history. All adult persons residing in the home must provide the court with a release form for a background check / criminal history information release.
· For the protection of all minors, each adult in the home of the proposed guardian must provide written consent to, and undergo, a thorough background check.
· The Probate Court makes no determination on requirements of school enrollment. Any questions on requirements for attending school should be addressed directly to the school or board of education.
Who files the petition? The person who wants to be appointed Temporary Guardian should be the petitioner. The petitioner must have the child in their physical custody to file the petition.
Where is the petition filed? The petition is filed in the county of legal residence of the petitioner having physical custody of the minor.
Who must sign to and agree to temporary guardianship? The mother and the father must either sign the petition for the temporary guardianship or must be given legal notice that the petition has been filed. The father of the child must be notified even if he is not listed on the birth certificate and/or the child was born outside a marriage. If the identity of the father is not known, published notice to the unknown father is required. The petitioner is required to make a diligent effort to locate both parents for the purpose of giving notice of this action and file an Affidavit of Diligent Search along with the petition.
How is legal notice given if a parent doesn’t sign? Any parent who does not sign the consent form included with the petition must be properly served. A parent who resides in Georgia must be served personally by the Sheriff. There is a $50.00 fee to the Sheriff for each service. A parent who lives outside the state of Georgia is served by certified mail. A parent whose address is unknown is served by publication. There is a $60.00 fee charged by Main Street News for each notice to be published if served by publication.
What if the parent(s) object to the petition? The Probate Court, pursuant to state law, CANNOT grant a temporary guardianship if a natural guardian objects.
Can the petition be filed without an attorney? Yes. However, it is the responsibility of the petitioner to properly prepare the petition and prepare any packets for personal service. Court staff cannot, by law, give legal advice.
Must the petition be typed? No. The petition may be hand written. However, it must be legible and in ink.
What documents do I need? You must provide the court with a copy of each child’s birth certificate. Every person whose signature is witnessed by court staff must provide a valid photo identification.
How long does the Temporary Guardianship last? The Temporary Guardianship will last until the natural parent terminates the guardianship or until the minor child reaches the age of 18.
How can the Temporary Guardianship be terminated? A natural parent can petition the court to terminate the Temporary Guardianship. If the Temporary Guardian consents to the termination the Temporary Guardianship can be terminated immediately. If the Temporary Guardian does not consent to the termination, the Temporary Guardian must be properly served by Sheriff’s Service. Upon service, the Temporary Guardian may object within 10 days of being served. If no objection is filed, the Temporary Guardianship will be terminated. If an objection is filed, the matter will be forwarded to the Juvenile Court of Madison County where a hearing on the matter will be scheduled.