Guardianship cases involving minor children can be complicated and expensive, especially if you do not have proper help or advice. Each guardianship case goes through the court system, but the process can be made smoother with proper planning. Below is the information you need to know about guardianship laws in California.
How to Establish Guardianship
Courts establish guardianship of children through a lengthy legal process. This process may include petition filings, expensive court fees, numerous hearings, extensive background checks, and interviews with the proposed guardian, the children, and possibly even the parents of the children. When establishing guardianship, courts will use the standard of “best interest of the children,” meaning that the interests of the children are of paramount importance in every guardianship case.
The Appointment of Guardians
It’s always a good idea to name legal guardians for your children in your Last Will and Testament, including one guardian and one alternate guardian for each of your children. These people can be the same or different for each child, but each child needs a guardian. Married couples can be named as joint-guardians, which will give both parties the legal ability to care for your children. While the court ultimately appoints guardians they deem to be in the best interest of the children, naming a guardian and providing an explanation as to why you’ve chosen this person to care for your children can help convince the court why your proposed guardian should be appointed.
If you are in a situation where the parents do not consent to you seeking guardianship over their children, the case becomes more complicated because the parents need to be proven unfit to care for their children; otherwise, an order for the guardianship cannot be issued. While parents are the only relatives that must provide consent, other relatives can make the proceedings difficult if they raise objections. If the parents do not have legal parental rights to their children, or have abandoned their children, then their consent is not needed.
If the parents are still involved with their children even after a guardian has been named and their parental rights have not been terminated, they may still bear some responsibility for their children’s financial well-being. Barring this circumstance, guardians may expect to have the same responsibilities as any other parent, in addition to any legal or court-related responsibilities resulting from guardianship proceedings.
If you have any further questions about guardianships, or if you’re currently involved in a guardianship proceeding and need assistance, please set up an appointment with our Encino guardianship lawyers by calling (818) 905-6088.