What is Guardianship?
Guardians have the same rights and responsibilities as parents as long as they have guardianship of a child. They can make decisions about medical treatment, where a child lives, and education. A guardian is responsible for a child’s well-being and to provide for their basic needs. Parents usually prefer guardianship to adoption because it does not end parental rights.
Reasons for Temporary and Permanent Guardianship
The reason for guardianship will vary. More importantly, not all temporary and permanent guardianships infer someone is a “bad” parent. For example, parents deployed overseas for military service may choose to give another person informal caregiver guardianship. However, in these cases, caregiver authorization gives the individual caring for the minors limited rights without having a court-ordered guardianship. Specifically, caregiver authorization can give a non-parent the right to make school and medical decisions. It does not, however, allow the caregiver to put the child on their medical insurance plan. Many people choose an informal guardianship because it faster, more flexible and can be more easily terminated than a court-ordered guardianship.
If a parent is abusive or is going to jail, the adult caregiver for the child must apply for formal court-appointed guardianship. This will give the guardian the legal authority and power to make all decisions for the child. Furthermore, formal guardianship protects the child in this case. The legal guardianship remains in place until a court officially ends the guardianship.
How to Apply for Formal Guardianship
Guardianhip paperwork in California is very cumbersome. Generally speaking, however, to start a court guardianship, first you must file a Petition for Guardianship of a Minor (GC-210). You will probably need many other forms as well, but the Petition is the main document. You can find some of the standard forms at here. Most courts have required local forms as well which you attach or submit with the Petition at the time of filing.
Most temporary and permanent guardianship Petitions are filed with good intentions, but the process is rigorous in order to protect the child. An experienced document preparer such as A People’s Choice can help you correctly complete and file the right forms and prepare for the evaluation. You do not necessarily need an attorney for this process. However, expert guidance will make everything less stressful. A People’s Choice works with many people who want to get a court guardianship, and we have extensive experience with this process.
What to Expect at the Investigation and Hearing
After you file the petition, get ready for the investigation. An investigator will interview the potential guardian and visit their home. The investigator interviews the parents and the child as well. Expect a criminal background check as part of the investigation process. Once the investigator completes the interviews and home visit, they prepare a report and make their recommendation to the court. He/she will explain their concerns about the guardian and what they learned from the interviews.
Next comes a hearing to determine guardianship. Someone other than the potential guardian who is over the age of 18 must personally serve notice of the hearing on the child’s parents, the current caregiver of the child, and the child him/herself (if over age 12) at least 15 days before the hearing. The potential guardian must also send notice of the hearing to the child’s grandparents, siblings, the county human services department, and the State Department of Social Services via mail. At the hearing, the judge reviews the investigator’s report and decides if guardianship is in the best interest of the child. If the court establishes a guardianship, the guardian must file annual reports with the court.
Filing for temporary and permanent guardianship can be complicated and emotional. Even if a parent knows they cannot care for their child at any point in time, dealing with this process is hard. Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to obtain a temporary or permanent guardianship order in California. We can prepare the necessary documentation for both informal and formal guardianships. Call us today at 805-648-5540.
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