28. Do I need to get legal guardianship or custody to get EAEDC for an unrelated child?
DTA requires that non-relative adults caring for children have legal guardianship or custody to get EAEDC. 106 C.M.R. § 703.700(A)(3)(d). If you do not have legal guardianship or custody, you must obtain it within six months of when EAEDC begins. The DTA worker must inform you that you have six months to get legal guardianship or custody or show good cause why you cannot get it. See DTA Field Operations Memo 2000-6 (February 18, 2000).
You can request "good cause" for not pursuing legal guardianship or custody if doing so would place you or the child at risk of serious harm or emotional impairment. You can verify the risk of harm with a written statement in combination with other documents (court, medical, criminal, child protective services, etc.) or with a statement from a knowledgeable third party to verify the good cause. 106 C.M.R. §703.700(A)(3)(d).
- DTA does not pay for the legal costs of securing legal guardianship or custody. For more information on how to represent yourself in filing for legal guardianship of a minor, see http://www.masslegalhelp.org/children-and-families/guardians-and-other-caregivers.
- If you are denied or threatened with denial of EAEDC because of lack of legal guardianship or custody, contact a Legal Services advocate immediately. Some Legal Services offices may be able to assist with temporary guardianship or referrals to private attorneys, as well as represent you in challenging DTA's denial of benefits. Short-term emergency guardianships under G. L. c. 190B, § 5-204 may be an option.
- If you are not the biological or adoptive parent of a child, you do not have a legal obligation to support the child financially. Even if you have legal guardianship or custody, you are not required to be included in the grant or have your income counted in figuring the EAEDC grant for the child.