California state courts always act in the best interests of a child. When a child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children, the court may award legal custody of the children to an adult who is not their parent. A guardianship is a court order that gives a person who is not the parent the authority to care for a child, a child’s property (estate), or both. That person becomes the child’s legal guardian; the child is referred to as the “ward” of the guardian.
If you’re in a situation where you need to petition the court to order a guardianship be established, naming you as the legal guardian of the child, the law offices of Upland, CA family law attorney Torrence L. Howell are here to help. We can guide you through every step of the guardianship process, from petitioning the court to arguing your case in front of a family law judge.
Types of Guardianships
There are two types of guardianship in California: guardianship of a child, or guardianship of a child’s property (estate). In many situations, the same person serves as guardian to both.
Responsibilities of a Guardian of a Child in California
In California, anyone with an interest in a child’s welfare can petition the state for guardianship. This can include grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, foster parents, or family friends.
Guardians of a child have a responsibility to provide care and support to their wards, the same as any parent. This includes food, shelter, education, healthcare, clothing, and other needs. They are responsible for the behavior of their wards and can be held liable for any damages their ward may cause.
Responsibilities of a Guardian of a Child’s Property (Estate) in California
The guardian of a child’s property is given responsibility by the court to wisely manage a child’s income, money, property, and other assets until they become an adult. Property guardianships are only established in situations where a child legally owns or receives valuable property, such as a house, inheritance, or a large amount of money. The guardian owes their ward the highest level of fiduciary duty to protect their assets.
The Guardianship Process in California
In California, the guardianship process begins with the filing of your petition and other required documents with the clerk of the court and paying the required court fees. Specific persons must be given notice of the petition before the court can hear the case unless the court orders otherwise. In some cases, the court may order an investigation to be conducted before a decision is made.
After the investigation, the case may go to trial. The court may decide to grant your petition or find there may not be sufficient cause to establish a guardianship. The California state courts recommend that you hire a guardianship lawyer to represent your interests.
The Differences Between Guardianship and Adoption
Being appointed the guardian of a minor is not the same as adoption. The guardian only has temporary custody of a child; in an adoption, the adopting parents are given permanent custody of the child. Adoptions are not monitored by the court like guardianships are. The court cannot order an end to an adoption like they can with a guardianship. An adopted child has the same rights as a birth child (including inheritance rights), a ward does not.
Speak to an Upland CA Family Law Attorney About Becoming a Guardian
It’s important to demonstrate to the court that guardianship is in the best interests of a child. With 20 years of experience and proven results, Upland, CA family law attorney Terrence L. Howell can deliver the legal representation and support you need to successfully petition the court to appoint you the guardian of a deserving child.
Contact us through our website or call us at (909) 920-0908 to schedule a free initial consultation to speak with leading Upland CA family law lawyer Terrence L. Howell about your qualifications for becoming a guardian.