Guardianship in California

Are you interested in becoming a guardian of a child? If you have taken a child in, or if you plan to, you’ll need to become the child’s legal guardian in order to make decisions about the child’s wellbeing. Without guardianship, you cannot act legally on the child’s behalf; for example, you won’t be able to enroll them in school or make decisions about their medical and dental care.

Under California law, “guardianship” is where the court orders someone who is not the child’s mother or father to have legal custody of the child or manage the child’s estate, or both. Whenever a child is living with an adult who is not their parent, the adult needs to obtain a court order that says he or she can make decisions on the child’s behalf – this is technically called a “probate guardianship.” Probate guardianships apply to children who are under the age of 18.

Facts About Guardianships

Here are some facts about guardianships in California:

  • The child’s parents still have parental rights, which means they can ask to have contact with their child.
  • If the parents’ circumstances change and they can take care of their child, the court can end the guardianship.
  • It’s not uncommon for guardians to be supervised by the court.
  • There are two kinds of guardianships: 1) guardianship of the person (this involves caring for the child), and 2) guardianship of the estate (this involves managing the child’s income or other property until they turn 18).

“Why are guardianships set up?” There are a number of reasons; for example, one or both parents may be in the military, they may be incarcerated, in a drug rehab facility, suffering from a mental illness, they may be homeless, abusive, or unable to care for their child for some other reason.

If an adult is seeking guardianship of the person, and the court allows it, this means he or she will be responsible for the child’s food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care, education, safety, and protection.

If you are interested in learning more about California guardianships, contact Cutter & Lax to meet with a board-certified family law specialist practicing in Ventura and the surrounding areas.