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Guardianship Lawyer in California

Guiding Clients Seeking to Become the Guardians of a Child

If you are considering becoming a guardian to a minor child or have been notified that another person wishes to become the guardian of your child, it is vital to understand how guardianships work in California, your rights and responsibilities as a guardian, and why seeking the help of a guardianship attorney may be a good idea. The legal team at the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, answers these questions and provides an overview of guardianship laws in California. Contact the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, at 909-675-1545 for all your guardianship legal matters.

What Are Guardianships?

Guardianship in California is a legal arrangement that allows a qualified adult to care for a minor child who is not their own biological or adopted child. A guardian can make important decisions related to education, healthcare, and other important matters for the child’s life, such as managing the child’s estate assets and finances that may have been inherited from a deceased parent. In some cases, guardianships are used when a parent is unable to make decisions on behalf of their child due to illness, disability, or other factors, such as being deployed in the military for an extended period. In these cases, the court may appoint a guardian who has been approved by the parent or who is a suitable relative or close friend of the child.

In order to become a guardian, the applicant must meet certain criteria and be approved by the court. When guardianship is granted, the guardian becomes legally responsible for the minor child’s welfare and is expected to make decisions in their best interest. This includes providing a safe and nurturing home, ensuring they receive an appropriate education, looking after their physical and emotional health and safety, and providing any necessary financial support. Guardians may also be required to provide periodic updates to the court on the child’s progress.

What Are the Different Types of Probate Guardianships in California?

In California, guardianships can be general (permanent) or temporary and are divided into guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. Temporary guardianship is usually filed when there is an emergency situation that requires a minor child to be placed under the care of a guardian immediately. It is usually filed at the same time as a general guardianship. General guardianship is a permanent guardianship that only ends when the child turns 18 or is emancipated, when the child dies, or when a new court order is issued. Both general and temporary guardianships can be a guardianship of the person, a guardianship of the estate, or both.

Guardianship of the person is when an adult is appointed by the court to care for a minor child’s welfare and to make important decisions related to the child’s education, physical care, and other important matters. Guardianship of the estate, on the other hand, is typically used when a minor child receives a large inheritance from a parent who passed away. The guardian of the estate is legally responsible for managing the minor child’s assets and ensuring that they are invested properly and used to benefit the minor child.

What Is the Difference Between Guardianship and Adoption?

The legal difference between guardianship and adoption is that guardianship is typically a temporary arrangement that does not terminate the legal relationship between the child and their parents. The court appoints a guardian to care for the child’s welfare and make important decisions for them, but the child remains the legal responsibility of their parents. In other words, guardianship still allows the biological parents to maintain their parental rights and keep their custody of the child.

Adoption, on the other hand, is a permanent arrangement and is intended to terminate the parenting relationship between the child and their biological parents. In an adoption, the adoptive parents are legally responsible for the child, and all legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood are transferred from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. It is worth mentioning that, in many cases, a guardian may ask the court to allow them to adopt the child they are caring for if they wish to become the child’s adoptive parent. California courts may give preference to allowing the child to be adopted by a guardian rather than by another person the child may not be familiar with.

What Are the Steps Required to Become a Guardian in California?

If you wish to become a guardian of a minor child, your first step is to determine whether guardianship is the right choice for you or if there are any other arrangements that may work better for you, the child, and the child’s biological parents. It may be a good idea to discuss your situation with an experienced California guardianship attorney before filing an application with the court.

After your papers are filed, the court clerk will let you know about the date and time of your court hearing. The court hearing is when the child, the proposed guardian, and the child’s biological parents appear in court, and the probate judge makes a decision about whether to assign guardianship to the applicant or not. You must serve the court papers to the child’s biological parents and any interested parties, even if they agree with the guardianship, as the hearing is their only opportunity to object to your petition. Before the court hearing, a court investigator may be assigned to look into your case and assess whether guardianship is truly necessary and in alignment with the child’s best interests. You may also want to consult a guardianship lawyer for assistance with the process of guardianship in California.

What Should I Do if Someone Applied to Be the Guardian of My Child?

If another person has applied to become a guardian of your minor child, as a biological parent, you have the right to agree to the guardianship petition or object to it. During the court hearing, you will have an opportunity to let the judge know how you feel about the petition and whether you believe that the proposed guardian should be allowed to become responsible for your child or not. You may also respond in writing to the court as soon as you are served court papers concerning the proposed guardianship.

You may object to the petition if, for example, you believe that you are fully capable of caring for your child and that the guardianship is not necessary. Alternatively, you may agree with the need for guardianship but question whether the proposed guardian is the right person to take care of your child.

It is also important to know that the child’s guardian, the child’s parents, or even the child (if they are 12 or older) can ask the court to end the guardianship. A guardian may also resign and ask the court to appoint a new guardian for the child without ending the guardianship.

When Should I Consult a California Guardianship Lawyer?

If you are thinking of filing for guardianship of a child, are the parent of a child with a pending guardianship case, or need help to make changes or end a current guardianship, talking to a skilled guardianship attorney should be your first step. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a guardian, parent, or ward and can assist you with the steps required to handle your guardianship matters.

The legal team at the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, has assisted countless clients in Southern California to obtain guardianship of children they care about and has also provided legal advice and representation for parents and guardians dealing with a variety of legal issues in relation to their children. California family code and guardianship laws can sometimes be confusing and complex, but our attorneys can help you understand these rules and how they may affect your case. They can also help you decide whether guardianship is the right option and assist you with the steps required to become a legal guardian. Contact the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC,, by calling 909-675-1545 and requesting a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.