California Guardianship

Sometimes a court can appoint someone other than a child’s parent to look after the child. This is known as guardianship. The guardian will have custody of the child and will be responsible for managing the child’s property or estate. Sometimes the guardian may only be responsible for the custody of the child or for managing the child’s estate.

Types of Guardianship

There are two categories of guardianship. The first one is guardianship of the person. The other is guardianship of the estate.

Guardianship of the person

When a person is appointed as the guardian of the person, the person must care for the child like a parent. The person will have all the responsibilities of a parent and can make all decisions regarding the child. He or she will have custody of the child – legal and physical. The guardian will be responsible for taking care of the child and for meeting all the educational and medical requirements of the child. Just like the parents would (in some circumstances be liable for the acts of the child), the guardian will also be liable for the acts of the child.

The court will appoint a guardian for the child if one or both parents cannot look after the child for any reason including mental or physical disability, military service, imprisonment, enrollment in a rehab program, alcohol or drug abuse problem, history of abuse or violence, etc.

When deciding on the appointment of a guardian for the child, the court will consider the best interest of the child. The objective of appointing a guardian is to ensure that the child grows up in a safe loving environment.

The guardian could be a relative, a family friend or any person who is capable of caring for the child and taking responsibility of the child.

Guardianship of the estate

Sometimes, the court can order the appointment of a guardian to look after the property and assets of the child until the child becomes an adult. Generally,  the court will consider appointing a guardian of the estate if the child will inherits asses. The court will usually appoint the surviving parent as the guardian of the estate. The court can appoint the same person as the guardian of the child and the guardian of the estate or appoint two separate persons. The guardian of the estate must manage the estate and property of the child property.

Guardianship Vs. Adoption

Guardianship is different from adoption. Adoption ends parental rights of the biological parents. Even if a guardian is appointed, the parents continue to have parental rights.

Petition for appointment of a guardian

Any person who wants to be appointed as a guardian of the child must submit a petition for appointment of guardian. The petition must be filed on Form GC210 (P) for guardianship of the person and on Form GC 210 for appointment of guardianship of the estate. Along with the petition, you must submit Form GC 240 which is the order appointing the guardian. If you are filing the petition requesting the court to appoint another person as the guardian, you must obtain the consent of that person on Form GC 211. After you submit the petition to the court, you must serve the notice and copy of the petition to the parents and other relatives of the child. In some cases, you may have to serve the Department of Social Services if you are not related to the child. Once you serve all the necessary parties, you must submit a Proof of Service. The court will then appoint an investigator to review your case and submit a report. After the court investigator submits a report, the court will schedule a hearing. All the concerned parties will be heard at this hearing and then the court will pass the necessary orders.

Termination of Guardianship

The person will continue as the guardian until
• the child becomes an adult or
• the child is emancipated or adopted or

If the child dies before becoming an adult the guardianship will automatically terminate. The court can also terminate the guardianship at anytime by passing an order.

A child over 12 years of age can apply to the court to terminate the guardianship. The guardian or the parents of the child can also apply for termination of the guardianship.

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