How far in advance have you planned for the care and security of yourself, your children, or an elderly family member in the event of an emergency? Guardianship ensures that you and your loved ones are cared for by someone who respects you and has your best interests at heart when you aren’t able to care for yourself. Guardianship Declarations are most commonly filled out by parents who want to name the person who will care for their children in the event the parents themselves are no longer around. I also recommend adults fill out a Guardianship Declaration form for themselves as well. This allows you to designate a person to take care of YOU, should a time come when you are unable to handle your own medical care or finances.
Guardianship Declarations are when one person is given the legal right to make decisions for another person who has been declared incapacitated and cannot care for themselves (commonly called the “ward”). Wards are most often children, elderly persons, or persons with severe medical issues. The guardian has the power to determine what medical care is given to the ward, where the ward lives, who can visit the ward, etc. There are two types of guardianships; a Guardian of the Person (who does all of the above) or a Guardian of the Estate (who manages the ward’s finances). The same person usually fills both these roles. However, there are times when the court may appoint a different person to manage a ward’s finances – for instance, if you have a large financial estate the court may require someone financially savvy such as a banker or financial planner to serve as Guardian of the Estate.
The Guardianship Declaration form is very easy to execute and put in place. This document allows you to name the primary person who will provide care should the need arise. It is also a good idea to list an alternate choice in the event your primary choice cannot, or will not, accept the responsibility if the time comes. The court will perform due diligence to ensure the person named is fit to serve, but you can take comfort in knowing the court will strongly lean in favor of whoever you’ve named over someone else who may come forward and attempt to take on the role.
The Guardianship Declaration also allows you to name anyone you do NOT want to be appointed as guardian. If there are family members who likely will not act in your best interest, I strongly advise you to make that known on your form. Remember, this is a document that will be presented to the court in the event you cannot speak for yourself. The court place greater weight on this document that you’ve filled out yourself, over the application or testimony of someone you’ve already excluded.
As always, feel free to contact The Gilkes Law Firm for advice on who to choose as your guardian, crafting the Guardianship Declaration, and completing any additional legal paperwork.
This is a question many people wrestle with. When someone reaches out to me for advice I always ask what’s brought them to this point. If infidelity, domestic violence, and/or substance abuse has found it’s way into the marriage, it’s completely understandable to want out – sometimes it’s necessary to leave sooner rather than later.
If none of those issues are a factor in your marriage, however, there’s a good chance your marriage can be salvaged. Before a divorce is finalized in Texas, the judge is going to ask if there is any possibility of reconciliation. If your answer is yes, the divorce will not be granted. The judge will send you off to try different methods to save your marriage. Knowing that, I like to go through options ahead of time that couples may want to try to incorporate before spending a lot of money on litigation. If, in the end, the marriage doesn’t survive – at the very least you can say you gave it a good try before calling it quits.
Here are some resources couples may want to attempt in an effort to save their marriage.
- Talk to your minister/spiritual advisor. Usually your spiritual advisor is a trusted individual in your life so there is a comfort level in talking to them. In many cases they may have even performed your marriage ceremony. They are often very skilled at helping couples through marital issues and will serve as a good neutral party to get advice from. There also is little to no charge if you are a member of their church which is a great added benefit.
- Marital Counseling. Some people are more comfortable talking to a stranger and this is where a certified counselor can come into play. As with any counseling, finding the “right” one for you can be hit or miss. I strongly suggest for couples to filter through qualifications in an attempt to find someone who can actually help you. In many searches you are often allowed to narrow down counselors by religious beliefs, years or practice, areas of expertise. When you talk to them you can ask for additional details – have they been through or counseled others in similar situations, how old are they, what is their philosophy to counseling. Being thorough in your search can save you from wasting time and money on counselors who may not work for you.
- Marital Boot Camp. This is one of my favorite options because a lot of couples have great success with this. In many instances, couples don’t divorce because something major happened. It’s often small things over time that chipped away at the marriage and caused the couple to “grow apart.” I often hear lack of communication, intimacy, and/or respect as reasons why couples call it quits. This is exactly what boot camps help you work on. Most boot camp programs are weekend retreats where you work on communication exercises, trust exercises, and establishing new boundaries for the marriage. These exercises are great at helping couples rebuild their marital foundation and provides a launching pad to a healthier, happier marriage.
Dissolving a marriage and breaking up a family is never an easy road to travel. If there is any hint of doubt about divorcing I strongly encourage you to use all available resources to try and save your marriage. Lawyers and divorce courts aren’t going anywhere, so let that be your last resort. There are many resources out there that can successfully aid you in keeping your family together. If your marriage can be saved, please do everything you can to save it.