Guardianship Information by State

Establishing guardianship (or in some states, custody) is recommended when a refugee family is caring for non-biological children under 18. The following searchable directory provides basic information about the guardianship procedures in each state. This information has been collected from communicating with clerks of courts, legal aid attorneys, and refugee resettlement staff as well as from court Web sites and publications for relative caregivers.

To consult on a case or to provide feedback on any of the following information, please contact BRYCS at 1-888-572-6500 or info@brycs.org.


Select a state in the form below to see information on that state:

 
 

AK - Alaska

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.courts.alaska.gov/

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.alaska.gov/guardianship.htm

Resources: All of  the forms, instructions, and a video are here. 

Notes: N/A 


AL - Alabama

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court or Juvenile Court depending on circumstances 

Web Site: http://www.alacourt.gov/

Link to Forms: The  forms are not available online and in some counties, they are not available  at the courts either.  An attorney must  put together a petition.

Resources: Alabama GrandFacts 

Notes: In  Montgomery County, a caregiver should petition for guardianship in probate  court only if the child's parents are dead or their rights have been  terminated.  Otherwise, the case must  go through Juvenile Court. 


AR - Arkansas

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court, Juvenile Department 

Web Site: https://courts.arkansas.gov/circuitcourt/index.cfm

Link to Forms: http://www.arlegalservices.org/minorguardianship

Resources: All the info one needs is here. The packet for a minor takes you to LawHelp Interactive where they walk you through the forms. It includes an online tutorial. 

Notes: N/A 


AZ - Arizona

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Superior Court 

Web Site: http://www.supreme.state.az.us/location/ 

Link to Forms: Each  county Superior Court has their own forms, which can usually be downloaded  from the county Web site.

Resources: AZ Law Help 

Notes: N/A 


CA - California

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.courts.ca.gov/superiorcourts.htm

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-guardianship.htm

Resources: Guardianship in California; Are You Ready to  Become a Guardian? (In multiple languages) 

Notes: N/A 


CO - Colorado

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: www.courts.state.co.us

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Index.cfm

Resources: Colorado Kinship Care Resource Guide 

Notes: N/A 


CT - Connecticut

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.ctprobate.gov

Link to Forms: http://www.jud.ct.gov/webforms/

Resources: Guidelines for Guardianships of Minors; Kinship  Caregivers 

Notes: N/A 


DC - District of Columbia

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Superior Court, Family Division 

Web Site: http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/superior/org_family/main.jsf

Link to Forms: http://www.dcbar.org/for_the_public/legal_information/family/family_court_forms/index.cfm

Resources: N/A 

Notes: In DC,  guardianship of minors in probate court is only for estates. 


DE - Delaware

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Family Court 

Web Site: http://courts.delaware.gov/Family/index.stm

Link to Forms: http://courts.delaware.gov/Family/index.stm

Resources: Permanent Guardianship 

Notes: N/A 


FL - Florida

Terminology: Guardianship or Custody depending on circumstances 

Court: Family Court for Custody or Probate Court for Guardianship depending on the circumstances 

Web Site: http://www.flcourts.org/courts/circuit/circuit.shtml 

Link to Forms: Depends  - see "notes."

Resources: FL Kinship Care Legal Handbook 

Notes: Guardianship  and custody in FL is very complicated.   It is a good idea to speak with someone at the Florida Kinship  Center.  The options include: 1)  Informal/physical custody – no legal right to make decisions for child, 2)  Informal/physical custody with power of attorney – basics like enroll in  school, but typically for short duration, not a form of legal custody, 3)  Temporary custody through Family Court – more authority than above, lawyer  helpful, no access to relative caregiver program, no supervision by court, 4)  Guardianship through Probate Court – must have a lawyer, most secure and  permanent relationship available, annual guardianship reports. 


GA - Georgia

Terminology: Guardianship or Custody depending on circumstances 

Court: Probate Court for Guardianship and Juvenile Court for Custody depending on the circumstances 

Web Site: http://www.georgiacourts.org/

Link to Forms: www.georgiacourts.org/forms.html

Resources: Appointment of Guardians for Children under Georgia Law 

Notes: For  guardianship of a person, both parents must be notified. If either is  deceased, you must furnish the death certificate or other proof of death. If  whereabouts of both parents are unknown, you will need to go to Juvenile  Court.  


HI - Hawaii

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Family Court 

Web Site: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/courts/family/family_courts.html

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/courts/forms/court_forms.html

Resources: Guardianship Facts 

Notes: N/A 


IA - Iowa

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: District Court 

Web Site: http://www.iowacourts.gov/About_the_Courts/District_Courts/#

Link to Forms: The  forms are not available online.

Resources: Iowa  Legal Aid has a number of resources on guardianship including a document  called How to Set Up a Guardianship or Conservatorship

Notes: N/A 


ID - Idaho

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Magistrate Court 

Web Site: http://www.isc.idaho.gov/guardianship/guardianship-conservatorship

Link to Forms: Visit your county's "court assistance office" Web site and the forms can usually be found there.

Resources: BRYCS' Promising Practice for Ada County Courts 

Notes: N/A 


IL - Illinois

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court 

Web Site: http://www.state.il.us/court/CircuitCourt/CircuitCourtJudges/CCC_District.asp

Link to Forms: http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=5025 

Resources: Asking for Guardianship of a Child 

Notes: Cook  County even has a Guardianship Assistance Desk for Minors in the Circuit  Court building.  


IN - Indiana

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: This depends on how each county's system is set up 

Web Site: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/  

Link to Forms: http://www.kidsvoicein.org/programs/clci/guardianship/ 

Resources: General Information About Guardianship of a Child; For school related issues, see Relatives as Parents: Answers to Basic Questions; Kids Voice of  Indiana also has many resources for kinship  caregivers 

Notes: Guardianship  rules come from state law, but the court you petition in differs by  county. 


KS - Kansas

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: District Court 

Web Site: http://www.kscourts.org/Districts/ 

Link to Forms: The  courts do not have official forms online, but Kansas Legal Services has a  sample petition to be used by an attorney.   Also, the Judicial Counsel (a volunteer group of lawyers who work with  the Supreme Court) has sample sets of all probate forms, including  guardianships but they are only available to lawyers.

Resources: Guide to Kansas Laws on Guardianship and Conservatorship 

Notes: N/A 


KY - Kentucky

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court, Probate Department 

Web Site: http://courts.ky.gov/courts/Pages/CircuitCourt.aspx

Link to Forms: http://courts.ky.gov/RESOURCES/LEGALFORMS/Pages/default.aspx

Resources: Guide to Basic Kentucky Probate Procedures 

Notes: N/A 


LA - Louisiana

Terminology: Custody 

Court: District Court, Civil Division 

Web Site: http://www.lasc.org/links.asp#DistrictCourts 

Link to Forms: The  forms are not available online.   

Resources: Louisiana Kinship Care Subsidy Program 

Notes: N/A 


MA - Massachusetts

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate and Family Court 

Web Site: http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/index.html

Link to Forms: http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/upc.html

Resources: Guardianship of Minor Children 

Notes: N/A 


MD - Maryland

Terminology: Guardianship or Custody depending on circumstances 

Court: Circuit court 

Web Site: http://www.courts.state.md.us/courtsdirectory/index.html

Link to Forms: http://www.mdcourts.gov/family/formsindex.html

Resources: Appointing a Guardian; Anne Arundel County Kinship Caregiver Resource  Guide 

Notes: In  MD, custody is considered to be more permanent.  Guardianship is more often used when there  is money involved or if there's an incapacitated adult. 


ME - Maine

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.maineprobate.net/

Link to Forms: http://www.maineprobate.net/forms.html

Resources: Legal Guide for Maine Grandfamilies 

Notes: N/A 


MI - Michigan

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://courts.mi.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Link to Forms: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/Pages/default.aspx

Resources: Michigan State University Kinship Care Resource Center 

Notes: N/A 


MN - Minnesota

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://mncourts.gov/

Link to Forms: http://www.mncourts.gov/default.aspx?page=513&category=167

Resources: A helpful guide explaining possible legal options related to caring for someone else's child is Legal Steps: Kinship Caregiver Resource Manual published by the MN Kinship Caregivers Association. 

Notes: In a typical refugee situation, caregivers would petition for guardianship through probate court.  Family court determines custody matters when the parents are involved or the case is contested.   
 


MO - Missouri

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court, Probate Division 

Web Site: http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=321

Link to Forms: The forms are not available online.

Resources: Guardians and Conservators Under Missouri Law 

Notes: N/A 


MS - Mississippi

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Chancery Court 

Web Site: http://courts.ms.gov/trialcourts/chancerycourt/chancerycourt.html

Link to Forms: No sample forms are online, but the MS Volunteer Lawyers Project has sample forms.

Resources: Mississippi Legal Services has some information on guardianship. 

Notes: N/A 


NC - North Carolina

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Civil District Court 

Web Site: http://www.nccourts.org/

Link to Forms: There are no standard custody forms in NC.

Resources: Publications from Legal Aid of NC. 

Notes: N/A 


ND - North Dakota

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: District Court 

Web Site: http://www.ndcourts.gov/court/districts/districts.htm

Link to Forms: The forms are not online but can be picked up at the District Court.

Resources: N/A 

Notes: N/A 


NE - Nebraska

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://court.nol.org/

Link to Forms: The forms are not available online.

Resources: Guardianship/Conservatorship in Nebraska 

Notes: N/A 


NH - New Hampshire

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court, Family Division 

Web Site: http://www.nh.gov/judiciary/fdpp/guardianship_of_minors.htm

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/fdpp/forms/allforms.htm#guardianship

Resources: Raising Your Relative's Kids: How to Find Help 

Notes: N/A 


NJ - New Jersey

Terminology: Guardianship or Custody depending on circumstances 

Court: Surrogate Court for Guardianship and Family Court for Custody 

Web Site: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/

Link to Forms: The forms are not available online.

Resources: Information about guardianship and custody in NJ 

Notes: Guardianship/surrogate court is most appropriate for those who can show their parents are deceased.  For most refugee cases, the family court/custody route is more appropriate.  NJ has "kinship legal guardianship" and a Kinship Navigator Program, but the child has to have been living with the caregiver for over a year to do that. 
 


NM - New Mexico

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: District Court/Probate Division 

Web Site: http://www.nmcourts.gov/othercourts.php

Link to Forms: http://www.nmadvocacy.org/home/node/5

Resources: NM Guardianship Project; Pegasus Legal Services for Children 

Notes: N/A 


NV - Nevada

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Family Court 

Web Site: http://www.nevadajudiciary.us/index.php/district

Link to Forms: http://lawlibrary.nevadajudiciary.us/forms/standardizedGuardianshipforms.php

Resources: Clark County Self Help 

Notes: N/A 


NY - New York

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Family Court or Surrogate Court (must go here if property is involved) 

Web Site: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/

Link to Forms: http://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/forms.html

Resources: Becoming a Legal Guardian in NY State; New York Court Help Web site 

Notes: N/A 


OH - Ohio

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.ohiocourtlinks.org/

Link to Forms: Most probate courts (Cuyahoga, Franklin, etc.) have their guardianship forms online.

Resources: Franklin County has a video on guardianship 

Notes: N/A 


OK - Oklahoma

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.tulsacountydistrictcourt.org/probate.html; http://www.oklahomacounty.org/courtclerk/Probate.aspx

Link to Forms: http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?2774

Resources: Checklist and Things to Know-Guardianship of a Child Using Automated Documents Online and Guardianship of a Child (Minor) 

Notes: N/A 


OR - Oregon

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/

Link to Forms: Some counties have their forms online, but Multnomah County does not yet.  Petitioners can pick up the packet of forms at the court. 

Resources: Guardianships for Children 

Notes: N/A 


PA - Pennsylvania

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Court of Common Pleas, Family Division 

Web Site: http://www.pacourts.us/T/CommonPleas/

Link to Forms: Law Help Interactive helps you put together a Petition for Guardianship of Minor Children for Pennsylvania and has an online tutorial.

Resources: Information on guardianship for Erie County 

Notes: From PAlawhelp.org: In PA, guardianship is for people who have children in their care, but are NOT the parents of the children. Guardianship is appropriate when the parents of the children are no longer available or able to care for the children, such as when the parents are dead or missing, or have serious drug, alcohol, or mental problems.  In PA, custody cases involve the parents of the child. 
 


RI - Rhode Island

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://sos.ri.gov/library/probate/probatecontacts.php

Link to Forms: http://www.sec.state.ri.us/library/probateforms/probate-index.html/

Resources: Grandparents and Other Relative Caregivers in RI 

Notes: N/A 


SC - South Carolina

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Family Court 

Web Site: http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/

Link to Forms: There are no forms; petitioners must seek legal counsel.

Resources: Frequently Asked Questions in SC Family Courts 

Notes: N/A 


SD - South Dakota

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court 

Web Site: http://www.sdjudicial.com/Circuit_Court/default.aspx

Link to Forms: There are no forms available online.

Resources: N/A 

Notes: N/A 


TN - Tennessee

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Juvenile Court 

Web Site: http://www.tncourts.gov/courts/juvenile-family-courts

Link to Forms: Davidson county: The forms aren't online, you pick them up at the court; Shelby County (Memphis) forms

Resources: How to File for Custody of a Child 

Notes: N/A 


TX - Texas

Terminology: Guardianship or Custody depending on circumstances 

Court: Generally Probate Court for Guardianship or Family Court for Custody 

Web Site: http://courts.state.tx.us/

Link to Forms: Some of the forms may be online; check your county court's Web site.  The University of Houston's Law Center also has the forms.

Resources: Information from TX Guardianship Association 

Notes: In some counties, petitioning for custody is cheaper and easier than petitioning for guardianship.  A lawyer is recommended to help determine the best option for your situation. 


UT - Utah

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: District Court 

Web Site: http://www.utcourts.gov/courts/juv/#Guardianship

Link to Forms: https://www.utcourts.gov/ocap/utah/guardianship/

Resources: The court Web site has a video with all of this information 

Notes: N/A 


VA - Virginia

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court 

Web Site: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/jdr.html

Link to Forms: You can get the paperwork from your county's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court's Intake Center. 

Resources: Understanding Your Domestic Relations Rights in VA; Grand Parents Caring for Grand Children; VA Legal Aid 

Notes: N/A 


VT - Vermont

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Probate Court 

Web Site: http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/

Link to Forms: http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/GTC/Probate/guardianship.aspx

Resources: A Resource Guide for Kinship Care Providers in VT 

Notes: If you file pro se (without a lawyer), you have to take a class. 


WA - Washington

Terminology: Custody 

Court: Family Court (within Superior Court) 

Web Site: http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/

Link to Forms: http://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=29

Resources: Video for kinship caregivers; Nonparental Custody: Frequently Asked Questions 

Notes: N/A 


WI - Wisconsin

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court 

Web Site: http://www.wicourts.gov/

Link to Forms: http://www.wicourts.gov/forms1/circuit.htm

Resources: Resources from Kids Matter, Inc.; Guardianship of Minors Presentation 

Notes: N/A 


WV - West Virginia

Terminology: Guardianship 

Court: Circuit Court (and then some circuit courts will hear the cases, while others refer to family court.  But petitioners should always start with the circuit court clerk's office) 

Web Site: http://www.state.wv.us/wvsca/familyct/index3.htm

Link to Forms:  "Infant Guardianship Forms" for any minor, not just infants 

Resources: Resources from Legal Aid of WV on guardianship 

Notes: N/A