8-871. Permanent guardianship of a child

A. The court may establish a permanent guardianship between a child and the guardian if the prospective guardianship is in the child's best interests and all of the following apply:

1. The child has been adjudicated a dependent child or is the subject of a pending dependency petition. If the child has not been adjudicated dependent, all parties have been served pursuant to section 8-872, subsection B and no party objects, the court may grant a permanent guardianship. If the child has not been adjudicated dependent and any party objects to a motion for permanent guardianship, the court may schedule a settlement conference or mediation or may strike the motion and proceed with the dependency petition.

2. The child has been in the custody of the prospective permanent guardian for at least nine months. The court may waive this requirement for good cause.

3. If the child is in the custody of the department or agency, the department or agency has made reasonable efforts to reunite the parent and child and further efforts would be unproductive.  The court may waive this requirement if it finds one or more of the following:

(a) Reunification efforts are not required by law.

(b) Reunification of the parent and child is not in the child's best interests because the parent is unwilling or unable to properly care for the child.

(c) The child is the subject of a pending dependency petition and there has been no adjudication of dependency.

4. The likelihood that the child would be adopted is remote or termination of parental rights would not be in the child's best interests.

B. If the child is the subject of a pending dependency petition not filed by the department, the court shall notify the department of the motion for permanent guardianship not later than fourteen court days after the motion is filed, and the department may conduct an investigation into the allegations contained in the dependency petition. The department shall have ten court days from the court's notification to inform the court and parties of its position on the guardianship. If the department objects to the motion, the department may take action necessary to protect the health and safety of the child who is the subject of the guardianship motion, including moving to intervene in the dependency action or filing a separate dependency petition. The department, the agency or a person designated as an officer of the court shall provide a guardianship report pursuant to section 8-872, subsection E to the court not later than ten days following the court's order to provide the report.

C. The court may consider any adult, including a relative or foster parent, as a permanent guardian. An agency or institution may not be a permanent guardian. The court may appoint a person nominated by the child if the child is at least twelve years of age, unless the court finds that the appointment would not be in the child's best interests. The court shall consider the child's objection to the appointment of the person nominated as permanent guardian.

D. In proceedings for permanent guardianship, the court shall give primary consideration to the physical, mental and emotional needs and safety of the child.

E. Unless otherwise set forth in the final order of permanent guardianship, a permanent guardian is vested with all of the rights and responsibilities set forth in section 14-5209 relating to the powers and duties of a guardian of a minor, other than those rights and responsibilities of the birth or adoptive parent, if any, that are set forth in the decree of permanent guardianship.

F. At the guardianship hearing, or by notice filed after the appointment of a permanent guardian or a successor permanent guardian pursuant to section 8-874, the guardian may advise the court as to the identity and contact information of potential successor permanent guardians.

G. The department or agency shall not be responsible for the requirements pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 3 of this section for a petition concerning a child who is not in the care, custody and control of the department or agency.