DEAR SUN SPOTS: You helped me once. I am hoping that you can help me again. How does one go about getting temporary legal custody of a grandchild? Who do I talk to? Thank you so much for any information you can give me. — No Name, No Town.

ANSWER:  The Pine Tree Legal Association offers assistance and information about this issue. They state: “Under Maine law, the biological or adoptive parents of a child are the natural guardians of that child. The natural guardians are responsible for the child’s care, custody, control, services and earnings until the child turns 18. 

“But what can you do if the natural guardians are not able to take care of the child? How can you help that child? One way is to become the child’s legal guardian.

“Please read all of this information and learn everything you can before deciding to seek a guardianship. You can also talk with the folks at Maine Kids-Kin or Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine about your options.”

Pine Tree Legal Assistance can be reached at 207-774-8211. Maine Kids-Kin “provides access to family support groups, a clothing exchange and lending library to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and other family members who are raising relatives’ children.” Their phone number is 207-941-2347. Call Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine at 207-827-2331.

The matter of guardianship goes through probate court. These are the basic forms used:

The key form is the Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor. The person filing the Petition is the Petitioner. You can propose yourself as the new guardian or another person whom you think is qualified. Make sure that the person you nominate (the nominee) is willing and able to take on the responsibilities.

The second required form is the Child Custody Affidavit. On this form, you tell the court about where the child has been living for the past five years and what other parties may have a legal interest in your petition.

If you are claiming that the child is living in an “intolerable living situation,” you must also file a sworn affidavit describing the specific facts. This form is called Affidavit of Petitioner for Appointment of Guardian of Minor Alleging Intolerable Living Situation.

Some courts will also require you to file an Acceptance of Guardianship form with your Petition.

If the child is, will be, or has been, receiving public assistance benefits (TANF or MaineCare), you will also be required to file a Statement Concerning Public Assistance form. Most courts require everyone to file this form. DHHS must be notified and may take part in the case, to see that child support issues are addressed.

You must notify these people that you are petitioning for guardianship: The minor child if he or she is 14 years or older and has not yet consented; The parents of the minor child; The person who has cared for the child for the 60 days prior to filing; and Any other person as directed by the Judge of Probate.

Getting “notice” means that these parties must get copies of the court papers. This notice can be done by sheriff’s service or by certified mail restricted delivery. In either case, this will provide you with proof that the parties got this notice. Because the mail process can be complicated, some courts will do the service for you, charging you for the cost.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Is there anywhere local to play racquetball? — From a Facebook friend.

ANSWER: Sun Spots called two places in the Lewiston-Auburn area that came up in her search and neither were open. Let’s hope a reader writes in with a local source.

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