In every state, including Arkansas, there are laws that allow a transfer of guardianship from a parent to another adult. This usually happens when a child does not have another parent to assume responsibility. This traditional guardianship is also facilitated through laws that allow standby guardianship. In fact, many states have come up with the concept of standby guardianship to address the needs of those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Almost 26 states and the District of Columbia have come up with standby guardianship. In most cases, the guardianship may be effective during the parent’s life and stay in effect even after his or her death. The parent may still retain a lot of control over the guardian and even play an active role in decision-making. As long as the parent is alive, the parent retains much of his or her authority. The guardian will need to assume responsibility only when asked to. In Arkansas, the court nominates a standby guardian when a parent is chronically ill.
The court will only appoint a person who it considers very suitable and has the regard for a will or any written instrument given by the parent. Standby guardianship comes into effect once a parent dies, or if the parent becomes mentally unbalanced or is physically disabled. The moment a parent dies, the standby guardian notifies the court and assumes guardianship. The involvement of the non-custodial parent is not addressed by the law.
However, it is important to understand that with the appointment of a standby guardian, the parents’ rights are not automatically absolved. Standby guardianship is absolved with the minor’s death or adoption. Guardianship is also annulled when the minor becomes an adult.
Source: ChildWelfare.gov, “Standby Guardianship,” accessed on Sept. 16, 2014