Before you decide to become a Guardian, ask yourself these questions:
Numbered below, are the five main questions you should ask yourself first.
Do you want legal responsibility for the child? You will have the same legal responsibilities as a parent, including responsibility for damages the child may cause. As guardian, you must also manage the child's finances, keep careful records, give the Court reports and ask the Court permission to handle certain financial matters.
How will the guardianship affect you and your family? You will be like the child's parent. This can affect your relationship with other family members. Think about your time, energy and health to decide if you want to be a guardian.
Do you have enough money? The child may get income from Social Security, public assistance, child support from the parents, or from an inheritance from a deceased parent. But, if this is not enough, you may have to spend your own money to raise the child.
Will there be problems with the child's Relatives? If the child's parents are alive, will they support you as guardian, or will they be angry with you and try to interfere? Some parents may fight the guardianship and/or the court may say that they can have regular visitation.
What decisions will I have to make if I'm a guardian?
You decide where the child lives. If you move, you must tell the court in writing right away. If you want to move out of California, you have to get the courts permission.
You decide where the child goes to school, stay involved in the child's education, and help the child get any special services, like tutoring, he or she needs.
You must take care of the child's medical and dental needs, making sure he or she gets proper care. In most cases, you can also make decisions about any medical treatment the child needs.
You must get the child counseling or other mental health services if the child needs it. But you cannot place the child in a mental health institution without a court order unless the child agrees.
What if the child wants a driver's license?
You may give the child permission to apply for a driver's license. Or, you may choose to not give his or her permission.
If you let the child get a license, you must also get auto insurance for the child.
If the child has an accident while driving, you may be responsible for any damages caused by the accident.
What if the child wants to enlist in the military?
You may give the child permission to enlist in the military.
If the child enters into active duty with the armed forces, the guardianship will end. California law will consider the child to be an adult.
What if the child wants to get married?
Both you and the court must give permission for the child to get married.
If the child gets married, the guardianship will end. California law will consider the child to be an adult
Am I responsible for the child's behavior and any damages the child may cause?
Yes, in most cases. Guardians, like parents, are responsible for any harm or damages the child causes, including graffiti or getting in a car accident.
Can I move outside California with the child?
No. You can't move the child out of California unless you first get permission from the court. If the court agrees, you must establish guardianship in the state you move to. Different states have different rules. Find out what the rules are in place in the state you want to move to.
Can I let the child stay with his/her parents or anyone else?
No. The child must live with you unless the judge says otherwise.
Can the court ask me to take on other responsibilities?
Yes. At least once a year, you will turn in a Status Report to the court. You must also meet with any court investigators or visitors, and come to court when the court tells you to. The court can also order you to take on other duties or can place special conditions on you as guardian, if needed.
What rights do the parents have when the child is with me?
The guardian is the only one with the right to make decisions about the child and is responsible for raising the child. But the parents are still the child's legal parents.
The parents may be able to visit and see their child, but you (or the court) decide when and how often. The parents may get custody of their child back in the future if the court decides that the child no longer needs to a guardian.
Can I get financial help to take care of the child?
You may be able to get child support from the parents, or help from the government, like TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), CalWorks, Social Security, Veterans Administration, or Indian Child Welfare benefits.
For more information, call:
Social Security Administration: 800-772-1213 TTY 800-325-0778
Department of Child Support Services 866-249-0773 (toll free) TDD 866-223-9529 (toll free)
Can I get help if the child has problems?
Every county has agencies to help children who come from troubled homes. Some children have physical or learning disabilities. Some have been abused. Some might need counseling or other services. Try to meet the special needs of the child in your care and get them the services they need.
Ask the court, or the child protective services agency near you, to tell you where you can get help
Fishel & Fishel, Attorneys at Law is a Law firm serving the Contra Costa County are including the Northern California East Bay communities of Alameda, Albany, Antioch, Benicia, Berkeley, Brentwood, Byron, Castro valley, Claremont, Concord, Danville, Dublin, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Fairfield, Fremont, Hayward, Hercules, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Montclair, Moraga, Oakland, Oakley, Orinda, Piedmont, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Point Richmond, San Leandro, San Pablo, San Ramon, Union City, Vacaville, Vallejo, Walnut Creek. We have over 18 years experience in the practice of Family Law covering Child Custody, Juvenile Law, Divorce, Dissolution, Personal Injury, Criminal Defense.