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Kinship Caregivers - Tutorship

What is tutorship?

Tutorship is when a person is legally responsible for caring for a minor child and has been appointed by a court to be the child's tutor.

Guardianship is the term used in every other state for tutorship. You will even see it in many Louisiana laws. However, in Louisiana, someone can only officially be named a guardian in a Child in Need of Care Proceeding (See CINC/ Guardianship Fact Sheet).

When is tutorship used?

If a child's parents are divorced, unable to care for the child or when one or both parents have died, a tutor can be named by the court for the child. It is usually used when a child has money or property or both parents are deceased. The most frequent use of tutorship is when a child has a personal injury money claim from an accident.

How is it done?

Tutorship is a very complicated legal process. There are multiple types of tutorship. As a non­-parent, the court may appoint you as tutor if:

  • You are named in the parent's will;
  • If no one is named in the will and you are a close blood relative; or,
  • If no one is named in the will, both parents have died and there are no close relatives.

All begin with a petition to the district court, not the juvenile court, containing very specific information. If the court approves and finds that it is in the child's best interest, the court will appoint a tutor. The tutor must accept the appointment, take an oath and post security that equals what the child owns. The court will then issue letters of tutorship which gives you the permission to act for the child . The court will also appoint an undertutor to ensure that the tutor is acting in the child's best interest.

How long does Tutorship last?
When does the court order expire?

Tutorship ends when the child turns 18 years old, or is emancipated. If the court finds that the Tutor is not acting in the best interested of the child, the court can order that the Tutor is changed to another person. The only time a tutorship can last past the child's 18th birthday, is if prior to that the court finds the child has a serious development disability. Then the tutorship can last indefinitely or until the court orders that it ends.

Do I need an attorney?

YES, Tutorship is a very complicated legal process. If not done right, it can be found to be invalid. If the child thinks that you did not act properly as their tutor, the child has until age 22 years old to sue you. Therefore, legal assistance from an attorney experienced in this area is very important.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a tutor?

The duties and responsibilities of a tutor may, based on the court's order, include:

  • The custody and care of the child including medical decisions;
  • Properly raising and educating the child;
  • Managing anything the child owns;
  • If the child owns property , to provide the court an annual report.

Can you prevent the parent from visiting with the child and do the parents still have the obligation to support?

These issues may depend on previous court orders. Therefore, they are very complicated and you should consult the attorney representing you in the Tutorship in regards to visitation and support.

Can I apply for benefits for the child or have the benefits the child receives put in my name?

Yes, depending on what the court has ordered.

Is there any paperwork I have to provide the court?

There is a lot of paperwork that has to be provided to the court in Tutorship. The attorney who represents you should file everything that is necessary with the court.

Are there any court costs that I will have to pay?

There are court costs which will vary from court to court.