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Frequently Asked Questions

Every family in the United States needs a CHERP®.

FAQs- if you still have questions, please contact us.

What is included in my CHERP?

Your final CHERP documents will be emailed to you and will include:

    • Temporary Delegation of Parental Responsibilities
    • Appointment of Long-Term Guardians

What if I already named a guardian for my kids in my Will?

If you already named guardians in a Will, those are effective unless you revoke them in writing. The documents this system generates does rescind all prior Nominations of Guardian, even those embedded in a separate and effective Will and supersedes them so that your most recent CHERP appointments will be the governing documents. Do not destroy your Will just to revoke old and outdated Nominations of Guardian. See an attorney if you are in doubt.

Nominations of Guardian embedded in a Will are ineffective if you’re alive but incapacitated because a Will is not a living document until after we die. Therefore, embedding these nominations inside of Wills is a poor, but entrenched practice from many hundreds of years of estate planning. Your CHERP documents are a fresh take on the best practices for parents whose children are still in the nest.

Can’t my older (but under 18 year old) child just say where they want to go?

No. Children under 18 are still classified under the “disability” of minority until their 18th birthday. Until then, children don’t have legal authority to determine where they will live. However, many states do require the consent of the child themselves when they reach a certain age–somewhere around 12 or 13–to the degree they can vocalize rational reasons for what they want.

Even so, you are the one to make this Nomination in writing, not your child. Consult older children about their preferences, and put your Nomination in writing.

My partner and I are in a blended family. How will a CHERP work for us?

First, if you and your partner have children from previous relationships, you will need to complete a CHERP individually and separately. You can and probably should appoint your current partner as one of your children’s Temporary Parental Delegates so they hang on to your children in an emergency. Please note there is no “legal” relationship between step-parents and step-children.

Second, if you and your partner have children together and separately, you can complete a CHERP for your children in common and a separate CHERP for your individual children.

Remember, if your children’s other parent has parental rights, you may not alter those rights with any of the documents provided in a CHERP.

Does my CHERP need to match my ex’s?

Not necessarily. We HOPE that co-parents can have civil conversations about who would care for their children in an emergency and coordinate to have matching CHERPs. However, you may create your own CHERP without conferring with your ex.

If something happens to one of you, the other of you will become the full time custodial parent. Remember– You may not alter your child’s other parent’s rights using CHERP! Only a court with jurisdiction over your kids can do that.

If something happens to both of you, state law will determine which of two CHERPs will govern. We cannot guarantee any specific outcome when you complete your CHERP; however, it would be extremely unusual for a court to override your decisions if you are a fit parent with legal custody over your children.

I started dating someone new recently. Should I name him/her as a temporary parental delegate?

Our recommendation is to wait for a while before giving a new partner authority over your children. A new relationship should be solid and lasting before you include a new partner on your CHERP Temporary Delegation or Appointment of Long Term Guardian. These positions should be filled by people that your children know, love, and trust, and that type of relationship may take some time to build. Give the relationship some time so you can be sure they are the right person to care for your children during an emergency.

I/We don’t have any friends that we trust with our children. Who should we name as Temporary Delegates and/or Long-Term Guardians?

Permit us to get on a soapbox for a moment. We’ve encountered many families headed by people who tend toward introversion, a small circle of friends and family, or even have social anxiety and/or disorders. Some people feel terribly isolated when they think about their children’s welfare and who would care for them. If that’s you, we get it! Making friends can be very scary.

Parenting is one of the greatest challenges in the world–and we do our best to fulfill our duties as best we can with what we have at the moment. One of our sacred duties is to ensure the adequate and loving care of our children by people we’ve selected to be in our flock. This means of course that it’s our job to create a flock, even when it’s difficult.

The members of the CHERP Team are introverts, ambiverts and/or extroverts. We certainly understand how painful it can be to get out there and meet new people. So we’d like to give you a prescription to aid you along the challenging path to building a flock.

Friend-making Exercise: Go out once a month to a venue where people are gathered to discuss your favorite topics or do your favorite things. Make it a point to meet three people, get one interesting fact about them and give one interesting fact about yourself. Then make a social media or phone connection and leave. Don’t overdo this at first. Baby steps. When you’re ready, pick one or two to call and have coffee/tea with.

Try that for a year and see who you really like and are comfortable with to bring closer to your heart and your family. In time, you will be surrounded by people who love you deeply and who you love, too.

My children’s other parent is violent, abusive, absent, neglectful, etc. Can CHERP help me prevent my children from being raised by their other parent if something happens to me?

No, CHERP is not designed to address these very complex and concerning issues. You cannot use the CHERP system to interfere with your children’s other parent’s rights. Only a court of competent jurisdiction over your children may alter the fundamental rights of either parent after due process of law. If these issues are present in your children’s lives, engage a qualified attorney in your area to help you understand what you might be able to do to care for your kids if their other parent is not able or fit to do so.

Won’t my kids just automatically go to grandparents? Godparents? Neighbor? Aunt/Uncle?

No. There is no order of priority for who will serve as Guardians. Instead, a court will appoint a guardian from among the people who petition for the job– and that could be ANYBODY! Sure, judges do tend to give preference to family members who want to serve over non-family members (out of a belief that family is better). However, judges might get this wrong! What if the family member who petitions for a Guardianship of your children is NOT the person you want? It’s up to you to tell a court who you want your children to be raised by if you can’t do the job.

Furthermore, many people believe that naming godparents is the only thing they need to do to make sure kids have guardians, but that’s not true. The role of godparent has no legal meaning in any state–it is strictly a religious or spiritual honor. To make sure your children are fully cared for, you must put your appointments of guardian in writing. These documents must be legally notarized.

Won’t the school keep my child for me?

No. The school will not keep your child for you. They cannot. If your child is stranded at school because you can’t make it to them, the school will ultimately call the police nearest the schoolyard. They may keep your kid until the last possible minute but if you don’t show up, they have to get the child into protective custody.

How is this plan enforceable?

This is enforceable under Constitutional law and state law. The U.S. Supreme Court declared in Troxel v. Granville (530 U.S. 57) that every parent has the fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of their child that cannot be interfered with except to vindicate a compelling state interest, and the interference is narrowly tailored to minimize the state’s impact on the family. From this standpoint, parents clearly have the right and obligation to ensure the safety and care of their children–even and especially during an emergency.

Each state will have statutes governing how parents may make these plans work–but those statutes are limited to the formalities that make emergency plans effective such as whether a Nomination of Long Term Guardian must be witnessed or notarized or both. A state cannot prohibit a fit parent whose parental rights are intact from executing a Nomination of Long Term Guardian nor appoint delegates to take custody of their child in an emergency.

How will everyone know I have a CHERP?

We also instruct you in how to care for your documents and make sure others know what do in an emergency to retrieve them and move them into deployment.

How do I educate people that I have a CHERP?

After your documents are notarized, be sure to email them as attachments to your local temporary delegates! Let your family know you’ve thought through how your kids will be cared for in an emergency. You can show them our website which helps to explain what this is all about and why it’s important.

NOTE: You do not need to disclose the order in which you’ve asked your Long-Term Guardians to serve. They do not need to know that, and you may change your mind later as your children grow up. If someone asks, it’s okay to simply say, “I’m not disclosing that to avoid hard feelings. I’m sure you understand, right?”

How do I talk to my children about CHERP?

As your children grow, they become more and more aware of death and the risks we assume just by being alive. You know your child’s capacity to handle difficult topics better than anyone. Feel into whether or not your child is ready to know certain things or is ready to formulate a strategy for managing their own fear of losing you.

When your child’s school begins educating their students about emergencies (such as fire drills and lock down drills), your kids are going to be wondering about what happens to them if something happens to you. When they ask, let them know that you have a plan in place for them and describe it. Make sure they have the numbers of their parental delegates to call in case of emergency as soon as they are old enough to have a phone of their own or memorize phone numbers.

How do I include or exclude a guardians' partner?

If you are naming a couple as guardians, in the name field, type both names. For Example: “Jane & John Doe”, or “Jane Smith & John Doe”. If you wish to exclude the partner from legal custody, simply name the preferred  partner. That would mean that if that named partner was unable, custody would automatically skip the other partner that you did not name.

What if I'm not married to the other parent of my child, but we live together. Do I name them?

It is not necessary to name the other parent if they live with you and are named on the birth certificate. If the other parent doesn’t live with you, and they are local, please name them as the first temporary and long-term guardian. If they are not local, name them as the first Long-Term Guardian only.

What if my Long-Term Guardian changes their phone number?

You may wish to update your CHERP if a number changes. We don’t ask for a second phone number for Long-Term guardians. If you feel that is necessary, feel free to write in a second number on your documents by hand. It doesn’t matter when you do this. It can be before or after your documents are notarized. Just add your initials in a little circle over the number if you add it after notarization. Your temporary delegates should know in general who the named long-term guardians are, so locating them should not be an issue.

What if I have more questions?

If you have a question that we didn’t cover, email us or contact us. If you have any awesome ideas for making CHERP even more obvious and clear to government officials, hospital workers, caseworkers, and others that may become involved in your child’s care and custody, please reach out to us at info@gocherp.com!
FAQs August 25, 2016


CHERP® is a Children’s Emergency Response Plan. It tells emergency responders who should care for your kids if you something tragic happens to you.



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