In Part 2 of Choosing Your Child's Guardian, you considered the most important character traits you want in a guardian for your children. This week we are going to match these priorities to people.
Step Three: Match People to Priorities
Use the factors you chose in step two to narrow your list of candidates to a handful. Congratulations! You can relax knowing you have many good choices to choose from. Listen to your body and feelings as you consider each person or couple as guardian. If you choose not to use a Guardianship Panel, you will have to use your instincts to rank this short-list into the people you would want first, second, and so on. If you are working with an attorney experienced in planning for parents of minor children, be prepared to answer the following question whenever you have named a couple: if the couple divorces or, because of death or incapacity, only one can serve, would you like either one to be guardian by themselves? Or would you prefer to move to the next name on the list? For this reason, it may be best to just name one member of a couple, rather than both, or name a contingency in case of divorce, death or separation.
For many families, it’s as easy as it looks. For others, however, choosing a guardian is fraught with conflict. One common source of difficulty is disagreement between spouses. Consensus is important. While you can each name different guardians, most parents are happier when they reach agreement. Explore the disagreements to see what information about values and people you should both understand. Use your strongest communications skills and empathy to understand each other’s position before you try to find a solution that you can both feel good about.
Regardless of which spouse’s family or friends appear more frequently on your final list, it’s important to keep both families involved. One way to do this is to name members of both families to the Guardianship Panel. If there is a likelihood of conflict between these family members, be sure to share this with your attorney so that your guardianship provisions can be customized to encourage the families to keep the lines of communication open.
NEXT WEEK: Choosing Your Child's Guardian - Part 4: Keep It Positive