There are times that parents may be unable to take care of their child(ren). It may be necessary for a relative or other adult to step in. To take responsibility for the child, a non-parent must take steps to get guardianship in California. Guardianship does not necessarily mean the parent is doing something wrong. There are many reasons another adult may need to get guardianship of a minor.

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…or continue reading the article below to learn more the steps to get guardianship in California.

Responsibilities Once You Get Guardianship in California

Guardianship gives a non-parent the authority to make decisions about the child’s education, living situation, and medical treatments. They become responsible for much of the child’s care. This includes providing:

  • shelter
  • food
  • medical care
  • emotional support
  • care for emotional and physical needs

If you get guardianship in California, it is not the same as an adoption. Guardianship does not end or terminate the rights of the parents. Furthermore, a court can end a guardianship if parents are later able to care for their child(ren).

Why You Might Need to Get Guardianship in California

Guardianship is a sensitive process and subject, and the paperwork is complicated. With this in mind, you should get professionial help with the forms if you want to get guardianship in California. Whether you are asking for guardianship or objecting to guardianship,  A People’s Choice can help you navigate either side of this process.

There are several reasons an adult other than the parent might need the guardianship of a child. Those reasons may include:

  • parent(s) are absent due to military service
  • a parent has a debilitating illness
  • the minor child is suffering abuse
  • a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction
  • there is some other reason that prevents the parent from adequately caring for the child

Keep in mind, a court award of guardianship does not mean the parent did something bad. A parent can ask the court to terminate a guardianship later. In other words, if circumstances change, the court may return guardianship to the parent at a later date.

How to Apply for Guardianship

It is essential to realize that there are two types of guardianship. First, there is an informal, voluntary guardianship. Under those circumstances, a parent can sign a legal document giving temporary guardianship of a child to someone else.

On the other hand, this article will cover the process of asking for a formal, court-ordered guardianship. Applying for this type of guardianship requires you to file several forms. You can find some of the standard forms through this link.  It should be noted, however, that many counties require additional forms and attachments.  If you are not able to hire professional help to complete the guardianship forms, some counties have a self-help center that can help determine which documents are needed. Although they will not help you prepare the documents, they may review the forms before you file.  You must also pay a court filing fee when you file the completed forms with the court.

Investigation for Guardianship

When you file the documents, the court will schedule a hearing. Before this hearing, the court or human services department investigates the potential guardian before the court will award guardianship.  The investigator interviews multiple people and parties. Usually, the investigator interviews:

  • the potential guardian
  • the child’s parents
  • the child, if they are old enough

With attention to the child’s interests, the investigation also includes a home study to review the potential living situation for the child.  Furthermore, the investigator will conduct a criminal background check on the guardian. This investigation protects the child in case the potential guardian has a history of abuse.

Lastly, with attention to their findings, the investigator will prepare a report. With this in mind, the investigator will make a recommendation to the court about whether the petitioner should or should not be a guardian. This report will include the investigator’s concerns.

Providing Notice to Interested Parties

Once the investigation is over, the court holds a hearing to establish guardianship.  The potential guardian must give all interested parties notice of the hearing. A non-party must personally serve the petition on the child’s parents and the child, if the child is over age 12, within 15 days of the hearing.  Additionally, the child’s grandparents and siblings, the county human services department, and the State Department of Social Services must receive notice.  You must mail this notice within 15 days of the hearing. If the guardian cannot locate a relative, they must detail what steps they took to find them.

What Happens at the Guardianship Hearing

At the hearing, the parents can object to the guardianship.  During the hearing, the judge reviews the investigator’s report and decides if guardianship is in the best interest of the child.  If the judge appoints a guardian, the guardian files annual reports with the court until the guardianship ends.

Generally speaking, there may be situations, such as a parent going overseas for military service, where a parent may need to leave the child with a friend or relative temporarily. As a result, the parent may not want to go through a court proceeding.  In that case, the parent can sign a notarized letter and a medical release to give someone else authority to make decisions for the child.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to obtain a guardianship in California. Whether you need to get guardianship in California on a temporary or permanent basis, we can help. Call us at 805-648-5540 for immediate help.

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