I have recently received a lot of questions about whether guardians are legally obligated to follow the wishes of the child’s parents. The answer, in short, is no; however, this does not mean that the guardian can do things that will put the child at risk.
The law provides that when the court appoints a non-parent as a guardian, of a child, the authority of the parent ceases. The guardian becomes responsible for the care, and custody of the child. But, this power is not limitless. The guardian is subject to the regulation and control of the court in its role. The court has continuing jurisdiction over the care of the child.
Some interesting questions have popped up over issues such as the duties of a guardian regarding a child’s healthcare. In the age of the “debate” over the “danger” of vaccinations, a guardian’s failure to provide care can be at issue. A guardian has the same right as a parent to give consent to medical treatment performed on the child. Generally, parental consent is required for medical services performed upon a minor. But, if the court determines that a guardian is not allowing life-saving treatment then a court is likely going to sever that guardianship, appoint a new guardian and allow the treatment. These issues, of course, are complex and the outcome of each case will vary. It is evident though that once the court appoints a guardian, the guardian is not required to follow the pre-mortem wishes of the child’s parents. So, the moral of the story is, choose your guardian nominations carefully.