News for Kinship Families

Great news for non-parent custodians!

I’m often asked, what’s the difference between guardians and custodians?

Generally, Family Court issues Orders of Custody, and Surrogate’s Court issues Letters of Guardianship. There are several legal nuances, but one significant difference has been that non-parent guardians have the statutory authority to make medical decisions for children, just like parents. If a non-parent takes a child to a doctor or hospital and provides letters of guardianship, the provider will allow them to consent to treatment. Non-parent custodians, however, have not had that authority UNLESS it was specified in their order of custody. The majority of orders of custody do not have language in them granting medical decision-making authority to the custodian.

That changed today (12/12/2019) when the Governor signed bill A01239 into law, modifying section 657 of the Family Court Act to state that “persons possessing a lawful order of guardianship or custody” to those who have the right to make medical decisions for children.

You can learn more here.

Submitted by Sarah Hedden, Esq.

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