Temporary Guardianship: What It Is And When It's Necessary

Posted on: 20 March 2023

Guardianship is a legal process through which a person or organization is granted the authority to make decisions on behalf of another individual, usually a minor or an adult with special needs. There are three primary types of guardianship – limited, general, and temporary – each with its specific purpose and scope of authority. Here's what you need to know about temporary guardianship.

Understanding Temporary Guardianship

Temporary guardianship is a short-term solution for situations where an individual requires immediate care, supervision, or decision-making assistance. Unlike permanent guardianship, which can last indefinitely or until certain conditions are met, temporary guardianship has a specified duration, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months. The temporary guardian assumes responsibility for the individual's well-being, including making decisions about their health care, education, and day-to-day needs.

When Temporary Guardianship is Necessary

There are several situations in which temporary guardianship may be necessary.

Parental Absence

If a parent is temporarily unable to care for their child due to illness, military deployment, or other reasons, they may appoint a temporary guardian to assume responsibility for the child's care during their absence.

Medical Emergencies

In cases where an individual requires immediate medical attention and is unable to make decisions about their care, a temporary guardian may be appointed to make these decisions on their behalf.

Legal Proceedings

Temporary guardianship may be necessary during legal proceedings, such as divorce or custody battles, to ensure that the individual's best interests are protected while a more permanent arrangement is determined.


If an adult with special needs or an elderly individual becomes temporarily incapacitated, a temporary guardian may be appointed to manage their affairs until they regain their capacity or a more permanent solution is found.

The Process of Establishing Temporary Guardianship

To establish temporary guardianship, the following steps must be taken:

Obtain and Complete the Necessary Forms

Depending on the jurisdiction, specific forms may be required to establish temporary guardianship. These forms can often be found on the website of your local court or by contacting a guardianship lawyer.

File the Forms with the Court

Once completed, the forms must be filed with the appropriate court, typically the probate or family court in the jurisdiction where the individual resides.

Attend the Court Hearing

A hearing may be scheduled to determine whether temporary guardianship is necessary and in the individual's best interests. Both the proposed temporary guardian and the person in need of guardianship may be required to attend.

Obtain the Temporary Guardianship Order

If the court approves the temporary guardianship, an order will be issued outlining the temporary guardian's responsibilities and the duration of the guardianship.

Reach out to a guardianship attorney near you to learn more.