Legal definition of guardian
Divorce & Separation Legal Terminology


A legally responsible person. A person that protects another.

Parents are generally considered guardians of their children. A married woman is a joint guardian of her children with her husband, with equal powers, rights and duties in regard to them. Upon the death of either father or mother, the surviving parent of a child likely to be born, or of any living child under the age of eighteen years and unmarried, may, by deed or last will, duly executed, dispose of the custody and tuition of such child during its minority or for any less time, to any person or persons. Such surviving parent may appoint guardian or guardians of the person and of the property of the infant.

A person who has been appointed by a judge to take care of a minor child or incompetent adult (both called "ward") personally and/or manage that person's affairs.
To become a guardian of a child either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for a minor's welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. In the case of a minor, the guardianship remains under court supervision until the child reaches majority at 18. Naming someone in a will as guardian of one's child in case of the death of the parent is merely a nomination.

While the term "guardian" may refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs, this is more often called a "conservator" under a conservatorship.
Source: NY Domestic Relations Laws. website
The parent or legal guardian of an infant over ten and less than eighteen years of age, shall be liable to any public officer, organization or authority, having by law the care and/or custody of any public property of the state, or to any private individual or organization having by law the care, custody or ownership of any private property, for damages caused by such infant, where such infant has willfully, maliciously, or unlawfully damaged, defaced or destroyed such public or private property, whether real or personal. (NY GOL, § 3-112)
Source: NY General Obligations Laws (GOL). website
"Guardian" means a person who is appointed or qualified by a court as a guardian of an individual, including a limited guardian, but not a person who is only a guardian ad litem. (AZ Revised Statutes, Chapter 1, A. 2, S.14-9101)
Source: The Arizona Revised Statutes. website
Guardians in socage. Where a minor for whom a general guardian of the property has not been appointed shall acquire real property, the guardianship of his property with the rights, powers and duties of a guardian in socage belongs:

(1) to the parents jointly, or, if they be separated, or divorced, to the parent who has been given the custody of the minor by a decree of court, or in the absence of such a decree, to the parent having the actual custody of the minor;

(2) if one of the parents be dead, to the sole surviving parent;

(3) if there be no father or mother, to the nearest and eldest relative of full age, not under any legal incapacity. (NY Domestic Relations Law, Article 6)
Source: NY Domestic Relations Laws. website
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