Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–4802. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Alternate standby guardian” means a person with all the rights, responsibilities, and qualifications of a standby guardian who acts as the standby guardian if the current or originally designated standby guardian repudiates the designation, becomes incapacitated, or dies.

(2) “Attending clinician” means a licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner who:

(A) Has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of a designator;

(B) Shares the responsibility for the treatment and care of a designator, or is acting on behalf of the licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner who has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of the designator; or

(C) Is familiar with the designator’s medical condition in cases where no licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner has the responsibility for the treatment and care of a designator.

(3) “Child” means a person under 18 years of age.

(4) “Consent” means a written authorization signed by the designator.

(5) “Court” means the Domestic Relations Branch of the Family Division [Family Court] of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(5A) "COVID-19" means the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

(6) "Debilitation" means those periods when a person cannot care for that person's minor child as a result of:

(A) A chronic condition caused by physical illness, disease, or injury from which, to a reasonable degree of probability, the designator may not recover; or

(B) A serious medical condition caused by COVID-19.

(7) “Designation” means the written naming of a standby guardian by the designator.

(8) “Designator” means a custodial parent, including a person other than a parent who has physical custody of a child and who has been awarded legal custody or guardianship by a court, who has been diagnosed, in writing, by a licensed clinician to suffer from a chronic condition caused by injury, disease, or illness from which, to a reasonable degree of probability, the designator may not recover.

(9) “Determination of incapacity” means a written determination made by the attending clinician that, to a reasonable degree of certainty, a designator is chronically and substantially unable to understand the nature and consequences of decisions concerning the care of a minor child as a result of a mental or organic impairment and is consequently unable to care for the minor child.

(9A) "Electronic" means relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.

(9B) "Electronic presence" means when one or more witnesses are in a different physical location than the designator but can observe and communicate with the designator and one another to the same extent as if the witnesses and designator were physically present with one another.

(10) "Incapacity" means:

(A) A chronic and substantial inability, as a result of a mental or organic impairment, to understand the nature and consequences of decisions concerning the care of a minor child, and a consequent inability to care for the minor child; or

(B) A substantial inability, as a result of COVID-19, to understand the nature and consequences of decisions concerning the care of a minor child, and a consequent inability to care for the minor child.

(11) “Parent” means the biological parent or adoptive mother or father of a child.

(11A) "Record" means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

(11B) "Sign" means with present intent to authenticate or adopt a record to:

(A) Execute or adopt a tangible symbol; or

(B) Affix to or associate with the record an electronic signature.

(12) “Standby guardian” means a person named by the designator to assume the duties of a legal custodian of a child upon the occurrence of a triggering event.

(13) "Triggering event" means any of the following events:

(A) The designator is subject to an adverse immigration action;

(B) The designator has been diagnosed, in writing, by a licensed clinician to suffer from a chronic condition caused by injury, disease, or illness from which, to a reasonable degree of probability, the designator may not recover and the designator:

(i) Becomes debilitated, with the designator's written acknowledgement of debilitation and consent to commencement of the standby guardianship;

(ii) Becomes incapacitated as determined by an attending clinician; or

(iii) Dies; or

(C) The designator has been diagnosed, in writing, by a licensed clinician to suffer from COVID-19 and the designator:

(i) Becomes debilitated, with the designator's written acknowledgement of debilitation and consent to commencement of the standby guardianship;

(ii) Becomes incapacitated as determined by an attending clinician; or

(iii) Dies.


(June 25, 2002, D.C. Law 14-152, § 2, 49 DCR 4248; June 8, 2020, D.C. Act 23-328, §§ 504, 810(a)(1), 67 DCR 7598.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4806 and § 16-4810.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Standby Guardian Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-141, Oct. 23, 2019, 66 DCR 14324).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Standby Guardian Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-111, July 31, 2019, 66 DCR 188).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Standby Guardian Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Law 23-30, Nov. 26, 2019, 66 DCR 13135).