Applying for Child Guardianship in California

If the parents of a child die or are otherwise incapable of caring for their child, they may want to appoint a guardian, or you may decide to apply for guardianship of the child yourself—regardless of the parents’ wishes.

A guardian is any person who takes legal responsibility for the care of a child who is not their own. Even if you’re related to the child, you would still be considered a guardian as long as you’re not the child’s parent.

Why You Might Decide to Apply for Guardianship

Here’s an example of when someone may want to apply for guardianship: If the child’s parents are sent to jail for criminal behavior, you could apply for guardianship over the child until the parents are released. It could be because you don’t want the child to be in foster care or because you believe you would be the best person to raise the child.

Here are a few other instances when someone would want to apply to be a child’s guardian:

  • The parents are deceased.
  • The parents have abandoned the child.
  • The parents are in jail or a mental health facility.
  • The parents are severely and permanently disabled.
  • The parents are otherwise unfit to raise the child.

In some cases, you may not need an attorney to apply for guardianship, but in most cases, it’s advisable to contact one. That’s because the court may want you to present evidence that you can care for the child and that giving you guardianship would be in the child’s best interest.

In other cases, more than one person may want guardianship over the child. If the parents haven’t left instructions as to who they want to look after their child, or if their wishes don’t seem to be aligned with the child’s needs, the court will have to determine who would be best able to care for the child.

How Does the Court Determine Whether a Guardian Should Be Appointed?

The court will consider many factors when coming to this determination, such as the following:

  • The guardian’s financial means to care for the child
  • The guardian’s ability to care for the child
  • Any history of criminal behavior, violence, or substance abuse issues
  • The child’s preference (in some situations)
  • The relationship between the potential guardian and the child
  • Many other factors

Guardianship Paperwork and Going to Court

Obtaining guardianship over a child is a long and difficult process. You will need to complete many forms, and you will need to give notice to other relatives. If you make any mistakes in this process, you run the risk of having your petition for guardianship denied.

For this reason, it’s helpful to have a lawyer walk you through the entire process. Your attorney can also represent you during court hearings. It’s in the child’s best interest to have guardianship settled as quickly and smoothly as possible. Stability is extremely important to children’s wellbeing.

Get in Touch with a Rancho Cucamonga Family Lawyer

You want what’s best for the child, and a family attorney can help you get it. Contact the Law Office of Laurence J. Brock to discuss filing for guardianship. You can talk things out with us under no pressure and no obligation to hire us. To schedule your consultation, call 909-466-7661 or complete the contact form at the bottom of the page.

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