Adoption Law Group is here to help you take the legal steps necessary to provide the best, most stable home possible for the child in your care.
Difficult circumstances may render a parent unable to adequately care for his or her child. Serious illness, incarceration, substance abuse or military duty can create the need for another person to step into the shoes of the legal parent and care for the child, either on a temporary or permanent basis. The path to successfully obtaining a legal guardianship is a very detailed one and requires
that specific rules regarding court filings, notice of the proceedings and court investigation be followed. Once all required documents are filed with the court and proper notice to relatives is given, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether or not the petition for guardianship should be granted.
When you become a guardian of a minor child you are given the authority to make decisions for that child. Control over the minor is transferred from the legal parent to another person on a temporary or permanent basis. Guardianships typically becomes necessary when the child’s legal parent dies or become incapable of caring for the child. A guardianship remains in effect until the court orders that it be terminated. If the child has inherited significant property, it is possible to obtain a guardianship over the child’s estate or property as well. Unlike most other family law cases, guardianships occur in probate court.
What are some of the benefits and responsibilities of a guardianship?
In a guardianship, the guardian is awarded legal and physical custody of the child and is allowed to make medical, financial and educational decisions for the child and to place the child on their medical insurance policy. (Note: Most insurance companies will not allow you to add an unrelated minor to your insurance unless you have a court order making you the guardian). The guardian is responsible for providing food, shelter, clothing, education and health care for the minor child. The child’s parents’ parental rights are not terminated under a guardianship, but suspended while the guardianship is in place.
How long does it take to become a guardian?
Once the petition for guardianship is filed, it typically takes 2-3 months for the guardianship to be granted; however, if there is an immediate need for the minor child to have a guardian appointed, you may file an emergency petition for temporary guardianship of the minor at the same time as which you file the petition for permanent guardianship.
What if I think the child needs a guardian, but the biological parents won’t consent?
If one or both of the child’s parents object to the guardianship, the judge may order the guardianship over their objection if he or she finds that staying with the parent(s) will be detrimental to the child AND the guardianship will be in the best interest of the child.
How long will the guardianship remain in effect?
Once a guardianship is granted by the court, it remains in effect until the minor reaches the age of 18 or until a petition to terminate the guardianship is granted.
Do I need a guardianship if the child is just staying with me for a while?
A formal guardianship is not always necessary. California Family Code §6550 allows a person who is related to a child to execute a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit which normally allows the caregiver to enroll the child in school and secure medical treatment for the child, during the time the child is actually living with them. The affidavit does not give the caregiver official legal custody of the child, nor does it suspend or terminate the parent(s) legal rights and responsibilities. While the Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit does not have to be signed by the child’s legal parents, they may cancel the affidavit at any time.
Does a guardianship require a homestudy?
As part of the Court’s investigation of your guardianship petition, either a probate investigator (in the case of guardianships by relatives) or a Department of Children and Family Services social worker (in non-relative petitions) will be assigned to do an interview and homestudy report for the court.