Updated: Aug 3, 2021
If you have concerns, you should exclude people you would never allow to have custody of your children. There may be people in your life that you would never want to raise your kids. Maybe it’s your sister-in-law that drinks too much before noon, even on Tuesdays or your first cousin that still believes in spanking or your younger brother who thinks Lord of the Flies was a parenting how-to manual. Whatever your reasons, you can create a document excluding these people in the event that they ever attempted to gain custody of your children. A confidential exclusion would remain confidential until, and only if or when, it was required in a court proceeding. Keep in mind that, legally speaking, a surviving parent will get custody almost 100% of the time. If you are separated from your children’s other parent, unless they have had their parental rights terminated, it is very likely that they will receive custody. In other words, you can't leave your kids to someone other than their legal parent no matter how yucky you think that parent is. If there are specific reasons you do not want that person to have custody, you may document your reasons in writing to assist the court in making a decision. However, even parents who are no longer partners should try to work together to choose guardians. Wait one minute though. You still need to document guardians and designate an alternate or two in the event that the other parent predeceases you. If you are on good terms, encourage the other parent to create a guardianship plan as well and try to decide who those guardians should be, together. In a perfect world, right? We know, but it can't hurt to try.