With hundreds of thousands across the country and the globe falling ill from COVID-19, many parents have undoubtedly asked hard questions: who would take care of my children if my partner or I were to fall ill? Or, what if my child’s other parent is not involved to begin with?
Fortunately, Virginia law provides an answer to these questions. It’s fairly common to designate another person as care-taker of your children through a will or testamentary document. However, there’s also other options as well that do not involve death. Under Virginia law, a parent may execute a stand-by guardianship. A parent may designate a “stand-by guardian” that is triggered by a certain event (such as death, debilitation or incompetence). Once the triggering event occurs, the stand-by guardian must file a petition in the appropriate court no later than 30 days after the triggering event. If a court finds that the triggering event has occurred, and the best interests of the child will be met by the standby guardian, the Court will enter an order to designate the petitioner as the stand-by guardian.
What if for some reason you suddenly had to leave your child, such as on a deployment or for a long work trip, and the other parent cannot or will not care for your child? In 2019, the General Assembly passed a law authorizing a custodial power of attorney. An individual may designate custodial authority, such as the right to enroll a child in school, give medical or dental treatment, or obtain copies of education records, without losing custody or their right to parent the child. For a non-service member, this authority may not exceed longer than 180 days. In addition, the custodial power of attorney must also be signed by the parents, the person who will exercise the power of attorney, and a representative from a licensed child-placing agency.
Our nation has learned from this crisis that it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Call me today to find out what you can do to help protect you and your children’s future.
If you or someone you know is facing a family law, criminal law or personal injury issue, please contact our firm. You can reach us by phone or email for more information.
This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers who need assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.