Taking Guardianship of a Minor
In a perfect world, every child would be raised by loving parents, have everything they need, and grow up to be successful adults. However, this is real life and, unfortunately, it can throw us some unexpected twists. Sometimes, those events leave parents unable to provide for their child, temporarily or even long-term. For these cases, the courts may grant guardianship responsibilities to capable and consulting adults. Guardianship is a court order to have a person other than the child’s biological parent take custody of the child as well as the child’s estate.
In the event that a parent becomes ill, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to care for their child, the courts will name a guardian to take over care of a child. Generally, this is someone in the child’s immediate family such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. However, anyone who shows an interest in the child’s welfare may be appointed a guardian.
Guardianship is not adoption. If the biological parent is living, this does not take away their parental rights, and it is not necessarily a permanent solution. It is entirely reasonable to assume that one day the parents can resume full responsibility again.
Types of Guardianship in California
There are two different forms of guardianship. Guardianship can be granted of a person or of an estate. If a child will be staying with the person who is not their parent for only a short time--weeks or a month--guardianship should probably not be pursued. If the duration is any longer, then guardianship may be necessary. This will give the named guardian the right to enroll the child in school, get the child medical care, and register for benefits. There are a large number of responsibilities that a guardian will take over, including:
- Deciding where the child lives;
- Counseling and mental health;
- Damage the child causes to other property;
- Parental visitation;
- Filling out an annual status report;
- Applying for a driver’s license; and
- Enlisting in the military.
As previously mentioned, one does not necessarily need to be a guardian of the child themselves. A guardian may be named for a child’s estate. This occurs when a child comes into a large amount of money, generally upwards of $5,000. This is most likely a gift from a relative, perhaps in the form of an inheritance. Often, when a child suddenly receives a large amount of financial property, they are not ready to handle those responsibilities. Yet, the bank or the executor of the will cannot simply give the inheritance to the parent, because they may misuse the money, and the bank or the executor would be liable and may be open to future lawsuits. Therefore, the benefits of establishing guardianship of an estate of a minor are twofold::
- It frees the bank and/or the executor of any liability, and
- It subjects the guardian’s management of the property to court scrutiny.
If you have been named a child’s guardian, would like to name a guardian, or would like to be named guardian of an estate, you need skilled legal assistance. An experienced attorney can provide insight into courtroom procedures, assist in finding witnesses if necessary, and offer various strategies to create an effective case. If you have guardianship questions for a skilled San Jose, CA guardianship attorney, please contact Manassau Law Offices, P.C. at 408-918-0010.