Guardianship occurs when a ward (someone incapable of taking care of themselves, such as a child) requires someone other than their biological/natural parents to obtain legal custody or exercise decision making authority over issues pertaining to the child. This individual can be a family friend, grandparent, extended family member, or other party. There are myriad reasons for this, including the death of the child’s parents, abandonment, or the court deeming those parents incapable of raising the child properly. Guardianships can also be obtained in situations where an individual over 18 is mentally incapacitated.
There are many kinds of guardianships, and not all are “total.” There are “limited” guardianships, where the guardian assists the child in making a specific decision. There are co-guardianships, where two people are appointed as guardians to prevent either one from abusing their power. There are situations where a guardian is only needed to manage the resources needed to care for the child, called a “guardian of property.” Finally, there is “guardian ad item,” where the guardian manages issues that involve legal proceedings relevant to the child. Temporary guardianship can also be awarded in situations where the child needs a guardian while the court makes a decision and someone makes a showing of “good cause.”
- Guardians can be responsible for:
- choosing where the minor lives
- providing the child with basic necessities
- supervision of the child
- keeping the child in school
- providing medical care
- controlling assets of the estate property
- avoiding conflicts of interest
- managing the child’s property for the benefit of the child
As state above, any interested party can file a petition for guardianship. As with any court case involving a child, the primary factor in the decision will always be the best interest of the child. That said, in the State of California, children over 12 can exercise their right to elect their own guardian. Outside of such circumstances, the court will launch an investigation to determine whether there are detrimental factors in your background, and whether you would serve as a proper guardian. Should the court award guardianship to the interested party, all of the original parents’ rights to the child are suspended and transferred to the guardian.
Obtaining guardianship can be a complex process, from a legal and financial standpoint. In cases where there is an “objector”, such as when the child’s parents try to prevent the party from obtaining guardianship, or when two separate parties are filing for guardianship, it can get chaotic. Taking the child from the parent is extremely difficult. A skilled lawyer is necessary to prevent things from getting out of hand and ensure the best interests of the child.
At the Law Offices of Glenn R. Wilson (FamilyLawFresno.com) we are experienced in handling guardianship cases and can provide expert and aggressive legal assistance in your guardianship matter.
By Connor Douglas Johnson