Wardship Law and Legal Definition
Wardship refers to a state of being a minor. This also refers to a minor who is under the control and supervision of a guardian. In case, if the parents of a minor child are absent or is unfit to look after the child then that minor becomes the ward of a court. In this context wardship means that the child is subject to the protective supervision of a court and to its orders made pursuant to that supervision. It also means that, if the court does not appoint a guardian for the child, the powers of a guardian (i.e., the power to make decisions of major legal importance) are exercised by the court as part of its wardship. [State v. Weidner, 6 Ore. App. 317, 321 (Or. Ct. App. 1971)].
In case of a juvenile charged with specified offenses, the state will be the guardian of such juvenile until s/he attains the age of 21. This is commonly known as state wardship.
Following is an example of a state statute (Michigan) defining “state wardship”:
Pursuant to MCR 6.903 (M) "State wardship" means care and control of a juvenile until the juvenile's 21st birthday by an institution or agency within or under the supervision of the Family Independence Agency as provided in the Youth Rehabilitation Services Act, MCL 803.301 et seq., while the juvenile remains under the jurisdiction of the court on the basis of a court order of juvenile probation and commitment as provided in MCL 769.1.