Can my brother deny me visitation of our father if he's Dad's legal guardian?

Sickoffamilyfights asked...

My brother has guardianship of my Dad. He lives in my Dad's house. He won't let me in the house and he won't let me stay there. Is this legal?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

What you're describing is not so much a situation with a legal answer, as one that seems to involve deep-seated practical and personal problems that have likely been going on for a while.

Your brother's duties as a legal guardian are to make decisions that are in your father's best interests. Usually, "best interests" include visits from his other children, even if the siblings aren't the best of friends. The fact that you're ready and willing to visit your father and maintain a relationship with him in his final years has value.

It's unclear why your brother is set against letting you in the door, but as long as you haven't been threatening or abusive to your father, you and your brother should work hard to find a way to make the visitations work"”perhaps by scheduling your visits with another person present or when your brother's not there or somewhere out of the house if your dad is able to move out and about.

If you and your brother aren't able to work out a solution, then you might seek outside help. One option would be to appeal to the court that granted the guardianship to set some specific conditions on visitation. Some courts are willing to do this in the interest of making the guardianship successful. But be forewarned that some courts will be less than helpful here"”which underscores that approach of working it out on your own.

Again, if that's not possible, consider getting help from a family mediator, who can assist you all in working out an arrangement that meets everyone's needs and desire in the best way possible. Some community groups offer family mediation free or at a low cost"”and the service would also be available from trained family mediators who 9operate independently. Check your phone book or do an Internet search of "family mediation" and your city or town.

If mediation's not an option, you may get some help by inviting in a trusted family friend or relative to help you all come up with a solution.