What is a Delegation of Powers?
A Delegation of Powers is a formal document by which a child’s parent, legal custodian or guardian gives another person the temporary authority to care for and make decisions regarding that child. A Delegation of Powers gives the caregiver important authority with regard to a child, but not legal custody of the child. The only way a person can get legal custody of a child is by court order.
2. What rights does a Delegation of Powers give to a caregiver?
A Delegation of Powers gives a caregiver the authority to make most decisions regarding the care, custody or property of a child. For example, a delegation may give the grandparent the power to:
• Authorize medical treatment for the child;
• Enroll the child in school; and
• Provide a home, care, and supervision for the child.
A Delegation of Powers does not give a caregiver authority to consent to a child’s marriage or adoption.
3. When should a Delegation of Powers be used?
A Delegation of Powers is best suited for those situations where both the caregiver and the child's parent(s) agree that the caregiver should temporarily care for the child for a short period of time. It is important to have the agreement in writing so that schools, doctors, and others will accept the caregiver as legally able to act on the child's behalf. In addition, the child's parents can use the Delegation of Powers to help show that they have not abandoned the child. If the parent or caregiver believes that custody should be vested in the caregiver for a longer period of time, or if the parent is ill and likely to become incapacitated, a stand-by or temporary custody designation should be considered.
A Delegation of Powers may be revoked by the parents at any time. It does not prevent the child's parent from removing the child from the caregiver’s custody against the caregiver’s wishes. Thus, a Delegation of Powers is not appropriate if the caregiver is worried about the child’s safety should the parents try to remove the child from his or her home.
4. Is it necessary for both parents to sign the Delegation of Powers?
If the parents of the child are married and living together, both parents need to sign the Delegation of Powers. If the parents are divorced or unmarried, the delegation only needs to be signed by the custodial parent.
The parent who signs the delegation must mail or give a copy of the Delegation of Powers document to any other parent within 30 days of signing the document unless:
• The other parent does not have visitation rights or has supervised visitation rights; or
• There is an existing order for protection against the other parent. A legally recognized non-custodial parent can always contest a Delegation of Powers unless his or her parental rights have been terminated. Before the non-custodial parent can remove the child from the caregiver's home, he or she must take the necessary steps to invalidate the Delegation of Powers, which would include going to court to get an order of custody.
5. How long does a Delegation of Powers last?
A Delegation of Powers can last no longer than one year. It may be renewed for additional year- long periods. Should a parent or guardian want an arrangement that lasts longer than one year, he or she should consider designating a temporary custodian or entering into a custody consent decree.
6. How does a kinship caregiver get a Delegation of Powers? Is a lawyer necessary?
A Delegation must be in writing and signed in front of a notary. The caregiver must also sign the form. A Delegation of Powers should specifically state the powers the parent wishes and does not wish to delegate. Often it is not necessary to have a lawyer to get a Delegation of Powers.
7. What responsibilities does a Delegation of Powers give the caregiver?
By accepting a Delegation of Powers, the caregiver agrees to provide food, clothing, and shelter to the child; protect the child from harm; obtain necessary medical care; enroll the child in school; etc. The caregiver does not become the legal custodian of, or financially responsible for, the child. The child’s parents remain financially responsible.
8. How does a Delegation of Powers end?
A Delegation of Powers ends at the expiration of the stated time period or when a parent revokes the Delegation of Powers. A parent may revoke a Delegation of Powers at any time.