There are two types of guardianship in California. Most guardianship cases are handled in Probate Court, but some occur when a child is a dependent of the Juvenile Court.
Guardianship Involving a Juvenile Court Dependent
Legal guardianship is a court order that says someone who is not the child's parent is in charge of taking care of the child. Guardianship suspends the parental rights of the parents, it does not terminate the parental rights. Guardianship can also be terminated at any time through the court.
Legal guardians may be:
- Sisters or brothers
- Aunts or uncles
- Other relatives
- Friends of the family
- Foster parents
- Someone else who knows the child
Legal guardians have a lot of the same rights and responsibilities as parents.
Health care: As guardian, you make medical decisions and give permission for most medical and dental treatment and counseling.
Education: As guardian, you decide the child's school and may sign paperwork related to special education if the child requires a program. The child is also able to receive help from Head Start, Regional Centers and California Children's Services.
Where the child lives: As guardian, you decide where the child lives. If you move to a different city in California, you must tell the court in writing. If you want to move out of California, you must get permission from the Court. Different states have different laws about guardianship.
Marriage: You and the court must give the child permission to get married if the child wishes to get married prior to turning 18 years of age.
Armed Forces: As guardian, you may give permission for the child to join the armed forces if the child is under 18 years of age.
Driver's license: As guardian, you may give permission for the child to apply for a driver's license. You must get the child insurance and you are responsible for damages should the child be in an accident.
Child's misconduct: As guardian, you will have to watch how the child behaves, just like a parent, and are responsible for damages if the child does something wrong.
Other responsibilities: As guardian, the judge can ask you to agree to other responsibilities, such as visits with the child's parents or siblings.
Financial assistance: As guardian, you can get welfare or foster care payments. As a relative guardian, you are eligible for KinGap funds.
Probate guardianship is initiated by the person seeking to be appointed guardian or by someone else in the family asking the court to appoint a guardian. A probate guardianship is set up because a child is living with an adult who is not the child's parent, and the adult needs a court order to make decisions on behalf of the child.
In a probate guardianship the juvenile court is not involved, however, Probate court is involved. The guardian has the same responsibilities to care for the child as the parent would. The guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child and can make all the decisions about the physical care of the child that the parent would make. The guardian is responsible for food, clothing, shelter, safety and protection, physical and emotional growth, medical and dental care and education or any special needs of the child.
Below is a link to Superior Court of California, Sacramento County Probate Court, regarding Guardianship.
Probate Court Guardianship