Guardianship of Minors

In accordance with Mississippi law, jurisdiction of guardianship matters is vested in chancery courts.  In accordance with Miss. Code Ann. 93-13-1, the natural parents are presumed to be the “joint natural guardians.”  However, a chancellor can appoint a third party if the natural parents are “unsuitable to discharge the duties or guardianship.”  In order to overcome the presumption that it is in the child’s best interest for custody to remain with the natural parents, clear and convincing evidence must establish:  (1) the natural parents have abandoned the child, (2) the conduct of the parents is so immoral as to be detrimental to the child, or (3) the parents are mentally or otherwise unfit to have custody of the child.  Sellers v. Sellers, 638 So.2d 481, 486 (Miss. 1994).  If both parents consent to a proposed guardianship, it is more likely that the court will enter an order establishing a guardianship.  Guardians are required to sign an oath as prescribed by law.  Duties and obligations are established by statute.  After the order is filed, letters of guardianship are issued.  Generally, guardianships terminate at age twenty-one (21).  However, where all parties agree that a guardianship should be terminated, a petition to terminate can be filed with the court that entered the order establishing the guardianship.  After the petition is filed, a hearing will occur.  In order to warrant termination, the court must find that such action is in the child’s best interest. 

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