How to Terminate Temporary Guardianship Without Court?

We hate to be the one to break it to you, but all good things come to an end. As with everything else, there is bound to be a new course of events giving rise to the potential termination of your guardianship — whether of a beloved child or an adult. 

There are two kinds of guardianship: child guardianship, which happens when the parents are incapacitated or deceased, and adult guardianship, which exists if the adult is incapacitated. This article will focus on child guardianship.

Is it possible to terminate a temporary guardianship without going to court? If the title hasn’t given the answer away, the answer to this question is “Yes.” However, both guardians must mutually agree to terminate the agreement.

There are many reasons why someone might want to terminate a temporary guardianship arrangement. In the case of a child, the child’s parents could have reconciled and can care for their child again, the child wishes to live somewhere else or with someone else, or the child has clocked the “legal age” (age 18) and is now considered an adult.

Since the child’s best interests are the utmost consideration during temporary or permanent guardian terminations, here are a few boxes to tick before considering the termination of your guardianship agreement.

The old/new guardian is capable (physically, mentally, and financially) of taking care of the child.

Across the board, if you’re interested in terminating a temporary guardianship, there are a few things you need to do. The laws vary across states and, therefore, might involve slightly different processes. Still, a common denominator is that the creation and termination of a guardian-ward relationship all require the involvement of a judge — even when you’re exercising an out-of-court option.

Terminating the guardianship must be in the child’s best interests, or the judge might not approve of it. So, make sure you have all the evidence and documents you need before filing a petition.

What Is Temporary Guardianship?

A temporary guardianship is a legal arrangement where one or both parents of a child agree to turn over custody of the child to another adult for a short period. 

The temporary guardian may or may not be related to the child. As long as the prospective guardian can take care of the child’s basic needs for that period, temporary guardianship is legally permissible.

The new guardian’s job is to care for the child’s basic needs, take care of medical emergencies, and be responsible for the child’s upbringing for a short period. This will include being in charge of the child’s education and finances.

P.S.: Before temporary guardianship can be approved, each state has guidelines and a temporary guardianship agreement form you must fill out to make sure that the child will be in good, safe hands. 

What Are the Reasons for Temporary Guardianship?

A temporary guardianship is ultimately for the child’s best interests, and might be requested for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The child’s parents cannot care for the child due to financial difficulties or physical or mental incapacity;
  • One parent of the child dies, and the other is not in the position to care for the child;
  • The temporary guardian (often a stepparent) wants to adopt the child, but the biological parent disagrees;
  • The child’s parents are divorced or live far away and cannot decide on parenting arrangements;
  • The child’s guardian will be away due to work or another important reason;
  • In cases where one or both of the parties are incarcerated, their prison stay would automatically incapacitate them from providing care for the child. In this case, parental responsibility can be transferred to a guardian — usually another member of the family or a trusted adult — during the jail term of the parent;
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  • When a child suffers abuse from either or both parents, a court may award temporary guardianship to other family members such as grandparents; or
  • If a child requires emergency medical attention, and the parent is not available at that moment. The temporary guardian might be a family member or a close acquaintance.

Who сan be a temporary guardian?

Before you can assign a temporary guardian, the guardian has to be fit to take care of the child. Some factors that can disqualify a person from being a temporary guardian are:

  • Being under the age of 18;
  • Deemed unfit to meet the child’s financial needs; or
  • Having a record of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

How Long Does Temporary Guardianship Last?

The duration of a temporary guardianship depends on the state’s laws and the circumstances surrounding the need for guardianship. In most states, temporary custody should last only 60 days, after which you will have to renew the relationship if need be.

And in rare cases, you can file for a temporary guardianship of six months. Temporary guardianship can also be quite short — especially in cases of medical emergencies where a close acquaintance steps in during the parent’s absence.

Ways of Terminating Temporary Guardianship Without Court

You could terminate temporary guardianship without court if the temporary guardianship agreement was not established following a legal proceeding (like a CPS investigation).

In cases where legal proceedings were needed, the court will believe there was a need to protect the child. So, the guardian will need proof to absolve themself of this notion. 

Under normal circumstances, once the temporary guardians of the child agree to terminate the agreement, they can end it by signing a stipulation. And there will be no need for a legal proceeding. If the child is over the age of 14 (depending on the state) they also have a voice in the situation.

This stipulation in the termination of temporary guardianship without court should confirm that the parties agree that the guardianship agreement is terminated. 

The stipulation must also contain the grounds for termination (usually that there was no need for the guardianship arrangement at the time of the stipulation) and the appropriate custody arrangement that will apply going forward. 

It must be signed in the presence of a notary public, after which it is then presented to a judge for review and subsequent approval. While temporary guardianship without court involves a bit of paperwork, it remains a better and faster option than court intervention.

Why Terminate a Temporary Guardianship?

A temporary guardianship cannot last beyond a stipulated time. Thus, if there is no longer a need for temporary custody, both parties terminating the guardianship agreement can be the logical thing to do. 

Here are some reasons to terminate temporary guardianship:

  • If the need for temporary guardianship was due to an emergency, you can terminate the guardianship once the crisis is over or you can reach the child’s parents.
  • The child has turned 18.
  • In cases where the ward dies, the guardians still have to terminate the guardianship. There might be a need for the guardians to make an account before closing the custody, and there will be a hearing for the version before the case can be closed. 
  • You could terminate guardianship if the protected person moved to another state. However, you must ensure (and obtain substantial proof) that the protected person has a new guardian in the new state before you terminate the guardianship.
  • If new parents adopt the child or the child decides to marry.
  • The parent is now competent enough to take care of the child. However, the parent must prove that they are now competent enough to take back the child and care for them.

How Do I Get Guardianship Back?

Getting permanent guardianship back depends on how the custody was initially transferred from the original guardians. 

If you signed up for temporary guardianship and you and the temporary guardians agree to terminate the guardianship agreement, you can quickly get back the custody of your child.

But in a situation where the court ordered the temporary guardianship due to an underlying reason, you need to assure the court that the reason is no longer a concern before you can get custody back. Here are a few steps to take:

Get proof

If the situation that caused the need for you to relinquish your guardianship no longer exists, obtain evidence to prove it. It can be witnesses, a doctor’s report, or your bank statements. The proof you’ll need depends on the initial reason for guardianship transfer.

Appeal to a superior court

You need to present evidence to a superior court to appeal your loss of custody. The appeal must be in the child’s favor, and it should include information on the child’s needs and wishes (if the child chooses you over the custodial parent). 

You must also demonstrate an ability to provide for the child’s needs with or without child support. You may also need to show that the current arrangement does not favor the child’s best interests.

Prepare for trial

While waiting for trial, you can review the opposing party’s petition if they ask for a compromise. Then you can prepare the necessary paperwork to counter this petition or agree with it.

The proceeding will ensue in a family law court — which requires the assistance of a family law attorney.

In the trial, the court will go over both parties’ petitions and decide what is best for the child — whether to give joint or temporary custody to either party or grant additional visitation to you. 


The impact of guardianship agreements on the child means it’s a hot-button issue that deserves the utmost care and sensitivity. Thus, for the most part, you can only establish or terminate temporary guardianship through the courts — unless the arrangement is completely mutual and without any form of controversy.

A move to terminate temporary guardianship is only allowed if the situation calls for it, and the courts will only agree to terminate temporary guardianships if they can take care of the child’s needs.

Once the temporary guardian and both parents agree (barring any pending legal or child protection investigation affecting their legal status), they can jointly terminate the temporary guardianship without court — even before the expiration date of the existing guardianship agreement!

The requirements may vary depending on your state, so know your state’s laws before entering a guardianship agreement. And this is where Lawrina’s expert family law attorneys come in. Is a temporary guardianship that has outlived its usefulness now becoming a bother for you? 

Our expert family law attorneys will offer you all the legal support you need to drop that agreement like a hot potato and reunite with your ward. 

Article by Yevheniia Savchenko

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Legal Writer at Lawrina. Yevheniia browses through the most interesting and relevant news in the legal and legaltech world and collects them on Lawrina’s blog. Also, Yevheniia composes various how-to guides on legaltech, plus writes product articles and release notes for Loio, AI-powered contract review and drafting software.

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