If both of a child’s parents are deceased or if neither of the parents has the capability to care for the child, such as when they are terminally ill, it is possible for relatives or close friends to intervene to help raise the child. In order to have a legal recognition of this caregiver relationship, a formal guardianship must be obtained. With over two decades of experience, the Orange County guardianship lawyers at the Law Offices of David P. Schwarz have accumulated a detailed knowledge of these procedures. You can rest assured that our family law attorneys will take the time to explore the details of your situation and provide you with comprehensive advice on the options that you can consider.Establishing a Guardianship in California
In a guardianship proceeding, a person other than a parent is given physical custody of a child, authority over a child’s property, or both. Thus, guardians may be classified in three ways: guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, or guardian of the person and the estate. These different types of guardianships reflect the reality that different children have different needs from their guardians.
A legal guardian is an adult to whom the court has given the authority and responsibility to provide for a child, manage the child’s assets, or both. As a practical matter, the guardian may enroll the child in school, offer the child safety and protection, add the child to medical and dental coverage, be eligible for possible financial help from the state, and make decisions about the child’s health and wellbeing. Typically, relatives, friends of the family, or other interested individuals may be considered as potential legal guardians.
In California, there are various types of legal guardianships:
- Full guardianships give guardians the authority to make decisions about a wide range of personal and financial affairs.
- Limited guardianships give guardians limited decision-making power over specific matters in which the person needs the assistance. In most cases, these types of guardianships are not for children but instead for adults who cannot make decisions for themselves, such as health care decisions.
- Joint guardianships arise when more than one person serves as a guardian.
Being appointed as a guardian requires filing a petition that is approved by the court. If the court appoints you as a guardian for a child, you will be legally responsible for many important duties and obligations.
It is important to remember that an adoption is different from a legal guardianship. The court has the power to terminate a guardianship at any time if it is not in the best interest of the child. A court, on the other hand, may not terminate an adoption. Thus, it is important to remember that adoptions and guardianships are very different, not only in terms of the responsibilities of the guardian or parent but also with regard to the power that the court has in each situation.Consult an Experienced Guardianship Lawyer in Orange County
At the Law Offices of David P. Schwarz, our Orange County guardianship attorneys can guide you through the process of determining whether a guardianship would be appropriate for your situation and which type of guardianship to seek. We represent people in many areas of Southern California, including residents of Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Dana Point, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Orange, Irvine, and Newport Beach, among other cities. Call us at 949-735-9266 or contact us online for a consultation with a child custody attorney or guidance with another family law matter.