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  • Question of legal guardianship

    I'm not sure if anyone on this forum can help me, but here goes:

    Three weeks ago, we won permanent residency for my three stepchildren. I am the petitioner and I am married to their father. Their mother is deceased. Since their natural mother is deceased, is guardianship automatically conferred or will I need to go through another legal process? My long-term goal (within the next year) is adoption. We live in Louisiana and the children are at this point still Honduran citizens.

    Thank you for any assistance you might be able to give.
    Karen

  • #2
    I would think it would be somewhat automatic, but not official. A trip to a reputable family lawyer would confirm.
    **************************************
    The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

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    • #3
      You could not sponsor them, except as derivative beneficiaries of your spouse without legal guardianship. If you have not formally adopted them, then you need to. A derivative immigration benefit does not establish legal guardianship.

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      • #4
        Federale, sponsor them in terms of what? Could you clarify?

        Thanks,
        Karen

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        • #5
          Are you saying that INS/USCIS would not have given them permanent residency unless I already had legal guardianship, that by virtue of the stepparent-stepchild relationship, legal guardianship is automatically assumed?

          Thanks again,
          Karen

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          • #6
            Karen, stepchildren are considered as immediate relatives and eligible for immigration benefits provided you married their father before they were 18 years of age. It is not the same as you having legal guardianship. Immigration and family court issues are completely separate.

            As their stepmother and one of their primary caregivers, it is implied that you would have a substantial say in decisions regarding their day to day care etc, but legally, you don't have any of the rights that their father does. To get those, he would need to grant you guardianship or you would need to formally adopt them.

            I know I said slightly different above, but that's what I get when I answer without my morning caffeine fix! LOL. Later in the day, I thought about my husband (stepfather) and their father's girlfriend (stepmother) and what actual rights they would have had should something have happened to both my ex and myself, and the answer was that they wouldn't have any as neither was a legal guardian.
            **************************************
            The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

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            • #7
              How do one relieve someone of their guardianship duties?
              ovulation tests

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              • #8
                Aroha, thank you for clarifying. Often I fail to make my point regardless of my caffeine intake lol!

                I never considered that I might not have any legal rights until I had to register them for school. Definitely going to fix that right away or we are going to hit a red-tape barricade soon.

                Thanks again!
                Karen

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                • #9
                  LOL! James, that is a question I ask myself every evening at about 8:15 when the kids don't want to go to bed heehee

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