The staff attorneys at SFCS Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry recently were contacted by a grandmother, “Lottie,” seeking help in obtaining guardianship of her four-month old grandson who had been in her care since the day the child came home from the hospital. Our client’s daughter, the child’s mother, passed away in the client’s home after battling a drug addiction for many years. The child’s father lived a vagrant lifestyle and was unwilling to care for the baby. While our client, Lottie, has only a modest income and is of limited means, she is a very loving and responsible grandmother.
Lottie tried to take the child to the pediatrician but was told she had no legal authority to make medical decisions for the baby. Desperate to get the baby to the doctor for checkups and shots, she came to understand that she needed a “guardianship of a minor child” to do so.
Upon calling a few private attorneys in the area she quickly came to the conclusion that she simply could not afford the attorney fees, or the filing fees for the court costs and fees, which can be in excess of $500 or more. However, the guardianship of her grandchild would be necessary in for her to care for the baby, secure medical treatment, and ultimately register the child for school so that the child could have a better future than his parents. She needed to find a way to do this. Without a guardianship, her grandchild was likely to go into foster care.
Fortunately, Lottie did find her way to the CLAM office through a recommendation from a friend. Our staff were able to take the intake, open her case, draft the pleading, and get the information needed to file a petition. We even found a donor to pay for the court costs and fees. While Lottie’s petition for guardianship of a minor child is ongoing and she is still dealing with the pain of losing her daughter, she is comforted by the fact that we are able to represent her at no cost to her. We’ve been able to secure a temporary order to allow our Lottie to continue to care for the baby during the course of her case. We anticipate a successful outcome soon with Letters of Guardianship awarded to our client so she may legally care for and make decisions for her grandchild, prevent him from going into foster care, and raise him to have a better future.