While we all desire for this world to be a kind, compassionate place for all those who reside in it, that is simply not the case. And often, children or elders are the first to feel the weight of its dark side. That is why California has such a thorough guardianship process – to grant protection to those who are defenseless.
Whether you wish to become a child’s guardian, would like to find a future guardian for your own child, wish to become a guardian over an adult or find a guardian for them, or wish to find a guardian for yourself for the future, we provide Free Case Evaluations to show exactly how we will help you through each process. The information below is non-specific and should not be taken as legal advice. Thus, contact one of our guardianship attorneys at our Los Angeles firm for more details on the course of action you must follow.
There are numerous steps you must take to become a child’s guardian, each designed to measure your ability to care for the child. These steps are intricate and can be daunting. It is highly recommended that you proceed only after you have consulted with a guardianship attorney who has worked within Los Angeles courts specifically, so they know the country-specific laws and process.
There are several situations that could call for a child to be removed from their natural guardians (parents) and placed in the care of someone else. This can be the case if the parents are mentally or physically ill and can no longer care for their son or daughter. Or if they have gone missing or passed away. Many times, a guardian must be appointed due to the parents being arrested and given jail time, using drugs or alcohol, or going through rehabilitation. Sadly, several children require guardians because they are experiencing abuse or neglect at the hands of their current caretakers. Whatever the situation may be, it is often painful to discuss for both you and the child. That is why we wish to extend a helping hand, one that will alleviate some of the stress and heartache accompanying these circumstances.
To begin the process of becoming a child’s guardian, you must go through either Probate or Juvenile Court, depending on your circumstances. Both these courts will require you to fill out several forms that will build the foundation of your case. They will ask you about your and the child’s situation, why you are submitting a petition to become a guardian, and why you feel qualified to be the guardian of a minor. You will then be asked to sign that you know your responsibilities and rights as a guardian and you are prepared to take on those duties. Before you sign the paperwork, your attorney will inform you of the guardianship laws in California and the extent of your rights. We will also help you review the paperwork before you submit them, to ensure that they are error-free and make the process as easy as possible.
The next step after submitting the forms is to notify all close relatives of the child or those who have a close legal relationship with the child. There are specific laws regarding how these notices must be written up and when and how they are to be delivered. Once you submit your petition for guardianship, you are given a short timeframe when these must be given out. If you are unable to find certain individuals, the state of California outlines specific steps you must take to prove to the courts that you did everything in your power to search for them. Since this is typically a step where people make many errors (which can delay or halt guardianship petitions), you can allow your attorney to review and deliver the notices.
To ensure that the child receives the best care possible, the court will investigate you as a potential guardian. This can be an intimidating process since you must prove to the investigator that you are indeed the right choice as guardian of the child. During this step, they will interview you and possibly the child if they feel it is necessary. They can also interview close relatives, current or past caretakers, neighbors, or anyone they feel would shed pertinent information on the situation. We know that you desire only to love and care for the child, but presenting that to the courts in a genuine way can be tricky. Since we have seen these investigations in action, we know exactly how to prepare you for the interview, so you can show you are qualified and passionate about this child’s care. Aside from the guardianship interviews, the investigator will examine the child’s living situation (both their current place of residence and where they will reside with you). They can also perform background checks on you and anyone with whom the child will have frequent contact should they live with you, as well as examine your and the child’s legal records. Your guardianship attorney will let you know how to prepare your home to prove competency and what to expect in each stage of the guardianship investigation. That way, the investigator will have no doubt in his mind that you are fit to raise this child.
One of the last stages of the guardianship process will be to present yourself in court before a judge. He or she will look over all the necessary forms and the investigator’s report. Then, he or she will ask you why you feel a guardian is necessary and why you wish to become the guardian over the child. You must bring every necessary piece of paperwork to the hearing and be prepared to speak before the court. We know that this can be nerve-wracking and will thoroughly prepare you, so you can present yourself as confident and capable. We will be right there beside you, ensuring that you do not forget any important details or papers. Should you be chosen as guardian over the child, we will then walk you through submitting minor paperwork to close the case, but the worst of it will be behind you.
There are several reasons why a parent may wish to find a guardian for their child. Maybe you have fallen ill and are concerned about your child’s future should you pass away. Or maybe you simply want to take precautions should anything happen to you. You could be a member of our military who will be deployed soon and wish to grant someone temporary legal rights to care for your child. Or perhaps you know of a child who is not being properly cared for by his current guardians, but you cannot become the child’s guardian yourself. All of these situations call for a guardian to be appointed over the child, whether now or in the future. For concerned parents, we will walk you through the steps for each circumstance and help you attain a temporary guardian for your child.
We know that this is an incredibly emotional topic, especially to discuss with a stranger. But by making the brave choice to prepare for an uncertain future, you will ensure that your child is properly cared for should you pass away. Our guardianship attorneys will walk you through each step, helping you to outline a detailed plan that will give your child his or her best chance at a fulfilling life. We will clear up all legal terminology and make sure every base is covered so that you may be at ease knowing your child’s future is legally protected.
Knowing that you will be away from your children for many months or even years is painful. Thus, we will make sure that every detail is taken care of so that while you are protecting our country, someone you trust will be protecting your son or daughter. We will help you draft a meticulous care plan and grant temporary guardianship to whomever you choose. Once you return, we will help you to legally end the guardianship so that you can rebuild your life with your loved ones.
What Legal Decisions Can Guardians Make?
Los Angeles County will make the ultimate decisions regarding the extent of a guardian’s decision-making capabilities. However, in general, they will be allowed to make choices necessary to provide for the child’s food, clothes, housing, and other necessities. In many cases, they can also make decisions regarding education, health, socializing, physical and emotional care, etc. Again, Los Angeles county can grant more or fewer rights as the judge sees fit, so it is different for each case.
What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Custody?
One of the main differences between child custody and child guardianship is that they are handled by different courts (family versus probate or juvenile). However, the real difference lies in legality. Typically, custody refers to the parents’ rights over their child. Thus, when a guardian is appointed for the child, the parents usually still retain legal custody rights over (rights to make decisions for) their son or daughter. Guardianship does not terminate these rights, but it can suspend them. Often, the child will live with his or her guardian, so parents do not usually have physical custody (right to have the child live with them).
What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Adoption?
Adoption terminates the parent’s rights over their child since the adoptive parents become the legal (if not biological) mother and father of the child. The adoptive parents will then have full parental rights to make decisions for and live with their adoptive son or daughter. This will last for the remainder of the child’s life.
Guardianship, on the other hand, is typically meant to be temporary, designed to last only until the child’s parents regain competency or the child reaches the age of majority. Guardians do not have full parental rights over the child. They are closely supervised by the courts and their guardianship rights can be taken away if the judge deems it necessary.
Many times, adults can no longer care for themselves or their property, and it becomes necessary for a guardian to be appointed over them. If your grandparent, parent, relative, or friend is in this situation, we can you through the process of becoming their guardian, which is called a conservator in California. This will enable you to properly care for your loved one. There are conservatorship forms that Los Angeles County will request of you, and we will walk you through the steps to fill each of these out. We will then help you submit them and perform any follow-up steps to officialize the arrangement.
Maybe you are concerned that your loved one can no longer care for him or herself, but feel that the care of your own household, children, and property would impede your ability to properly look out for him or her. If this is the case, we can help you find and appoint a conservator you trust to take over the caretaking responsibilities.
If you are considering your own future and worry about the day when you can no longer care for yourself or your finances and property, we can help. While this can be an emotionally taxing topic to consider, you can be proud of the fact that you’re taking steps to prepare for the future. We will be alongside you every step of the way, helping you fill out the paperwork that will grant power of attorney to a person of your choosing.
There is no simple answer to this since it depends on the needs of the individual being cared for and the type of conservatorship the guardian has. However, in most cases, the conservator will be able to make general decisions regarding property and finances and the care of the adult. Los Angeles County will specify the exact rights the conservator has once the guardianship is approved.