Guardian ad Litem for Kids’ Voice was able to get permanent guardianship for young child and court-ordered visitation for the mother.

Latoya was already struggling to care for her two sons when she gave birth to Aiesha. Latoya placed Aiesha with a relative when Aiesha was three months old. The relative soon discovered that she lacked the resources to care for Aiesha’s eczema and other health problems. The relative gave Aiesha to fellow church members, Bobby and Joyce, who had two teenage sons and wanted a baby girl.

Latoya wrote a note authorizing Bobby and Joyce to care for Aiesha and to consent to medical care for Aiesha. Bobby and Joyce cared for Aiesha for three years. They paid cash for Aiesha’s eczema medication and dermatologist visits. Bobby then learned that he could add Aiesha to his health insurance plan if he and Joyce were appointed permanent legal guardians of Aiesha. Joyce read the Children’s Law Center’s free educational website for information on how to become a legal guardian. Bobby and Joyce did not qualify for a pro bono attorney to petition for guardianship, but they lacked money to pay for an attorney.  Joyce used sample forms from the Kids’ Voice website to petition for temporary guardianship, which Joyce filed in the Probate Court.

The Probate-Court held a hearing on Joyce and Bobby’s temporary guardianship petition. Latoya objected to the guardianship because she wanted court-ordered visitation. The judge signed an order appointing Bobby and Joyce as temporary guardians of Aiesha. The Judge needed more information to help him decide whether Bobby and Joyce should become Aiesha’s permanent guardians and to decide the amount and frequency of visitation that Latoya should be given. The Judge appointed Kids’ Voice to provide Guardian ad Litem (GAL) services for Aiesha, and scheduled a hearing on permanent guardianship and Latoya’s visitation.  Emily, the Kids’ Voice attorney, assigned a volunteer GAL to make home visits, interview Joyce, Bobby, and Aiesha, and to make recommendations in Aiesha’s best interests. Emily filed the GAL’s report with the Court. At the second hearing, the judge granted visitation to Latoya every other Sunday and appointed Joyce and Bobby permanent guardians of Aiesha. The judge asked Emily to prepare and submit a court order for his signature, which he signed. Bobby gave a copy of the order to his company’s human resources officer to send on the health insurance company.  Aiesha now has legal permanency and security with Bobby and Joyce as her permanent guardians. Latoya has a written guarantee of her visitation rights and Bobby’s health insurance will offset the cost of Aiesha’s care.