Whenever parents are unable to care for themselves or their child, that child may need to enter into a guardianship. Though this can cause anxiety for parents, preparing for this situation can reduce stress and keep your child safe. Alternatively, if you are a grandparent or other “interested” person you may qualify to be a guardian of the child. If you’re worried about not being able to care for your child after a divorce, now is the time to learn everything you need to know about divorce and guardianship in California.
What Does it Mean to Remain in Guardianship?
Guardianship is a way to transfer care to a person without the biological parents losing all of their parental rights. A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions for someone else and, in the case of a child, to care for the individual. Guardianship occurs in divorces, when it is in the child’s best interest to live with someone other than their biological parents. This, however, does not happen often. The most common guardianship situation arises when the child’s parents are deceased or otherwise not able to take care of their child
Establishing Guardianship in California
To become a guardian in California, you need to file several papers with the court, attend court hearings, and understand complicated rules and forms. Though this process can be done without a lawyer, hiring one is highly recommended, as the process can be lengthy and complex. To establish guardianship in California, you’ll need to take the following steps before a judge makes a decision on your case:
- Fill out, review, copy, and file the correct forms.
- Give notice to related parties.
- Sign a consent and waiver notice.
- Speak with a court investigator.
- Attend your court hearing.
Differences Between Legal Guardians and Adoptive Parents in California
Legal guardians are the primary and legal caregivers of a child. However, biological parents still maintain their parental rights to a child under guardianship and may upon reapplication to the court have a child’s custody returned to the parents . On the other hand, adoptive parents hold full parental rights, meaning that the biological parents of an adopted child would lose all of their parental rights.
Types of Guardianships
There are two types of guardianship:
- Guardianship Over the Person: When someone has guardianship over a person, they are responsible for that person’s welfare. The guardian will have the legal right to make important decisions for the person they have guardianship over. These include medical decisions, where a person will live, and where they will go to school in the case of a child.
- Guardianship Over the Estate: This type of guardianship is common when a child is left with a trust they can’t access until a certain age. Guardianship over an estate or trust means that the guardian can make financial decisions on behalf of a person. Still, a court decision is usually required if the guardian wishes to sell or spend any assets.
What Are a Guardian’s Responsibilities?
A guardian is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the person under their care that are in the child’s best interest. Guardians are also expected to obtain necessary medical care, make annual reports to the court, and ensure that the person under their care is well-taken care of.
Schedule a Consultation
At Bloom & Rudibaugh, we have an experienced team of divorce attorneys who hold expertise in all aspects of California family law. We are prepared to help you successfully prepare for guardianship or divorce. Call our Hemet Law Office today at 951-652-1400 or our Murrieta/Temecula office at 951-296-5360 to schedule a consultation with one of our family lawyers.