In a perfect world, all children would be properly cared for by their biological parents. Of course, this earth is far from Utopia, and some situations call for the care of the child to be placed in the hands of someone better able to provide for them. This can occur for a number of reasons. Even in cases where parents genuinely love and wish to care for their child, California courts may deem them unable to do so. Perhaps they are seriously ill, mentally or physically; perhaps they are addicted to a substance that is interfering with their child’s well-being, such as alcohol; perhaps they are going away for a long period of time, as is the case with many military members. Of course, there are some cases that clearly necessitate placing the child under another person’s care, such as abuse or neglect. However, other cases may be more ambiguous, and if you are concerned about the well-being of another’s child and questioning if their situation may call for court-mandated action, you should seek legal counsel from attorneys who are thoroughly educated on laws in California regarding child guardianship. Understanding that this may be a difficult decision to come to, especially if the legal parents love their child but simply cannot adequately provide for them, it is important to get a second opinion on the situation. Note that guardianship does not always have to be permanent. It is not the same as adoption, which definitively terminates the rights of the biological parents. Often, the mother and/or father may be able to regain their rights over their child after they become fit to raise them. For instance, when an addicted individual successfully completes rehabilitation, they can seek to regain their parental rights. Also, in most cases, the California courts will oversee the actions of the caretaker during their guardianship, ensuring that they are acting in the child’s best interests, which is not the case after an adoption is finalized. Additionally, parents can still retain some rights over their child and may request to maintain contact with them when the child is appointed a guardian, which is often only granted in an adoption if the adoptive parents allow it. Guardianship, put simply, is the act of granting a person other than the child’s parents (adoptive or biological) partial and sometimes temporary responsibility for the child. The judge can require them to provide basic necessities such as food and shelter, maintain their physical and mental health, facilitate their education, protect them, and so on. These responsibilities must be decided on in court, and several factors will be taken into consideration, which will be outlined by a family law attorney.
If you are a parent who wishes to obtain rights over your child once again, it is especially important to seek an attorney to represent you. They will advocate first and foremost for your child’s interests, showing the state of California that you are able to adequately provide for the child financially, physically, and emotionally. They will also guide you through the forms you must fill out and help you navigate through the California courts. While we understand that you ardently wish to regain your parental rights and become responsible for your child’s well-being, this passion can sometimes impede on your ability to prove your competency to a court. Thus, having an objective party on your side through this emotional case will put you at a great advantage.
It is important to note that guardianship is not exclusive to children, either. Adults and elders may be appointed a guardian – called a conservator in these cases – when they are deemed unable to provide for themselves or take care of their own finances. There are different types of conservatorships, each of which are granted due to different circumstances, which will be hashed out in court. If you are seeking to become guardian over an adult in California, then consulting with a lawyer must be your first step. They will inform you about the responsibilities you will take on as the legal conservator, the rights you have over them and their property, and the steps you can take to ensure that their needs are being properly met. If you feel as though an elder is being neglected (or, worse, abused), definitely seek legal assistance. The court can remove a conservator from their position and appoint one who will work in the best interest of theconservatee. In some cases, courts grant temporary conservatorship to a disabled individual. Should the conservatee regain their ability to care for themselves, they can seek to end the conservatorship. This will require an investigation by the judge to see if their condition has improved enough, and thus it is important that the conservatee have adequate legal representation in a California court so they can prove their competency and fully regain their rights.