Guardianship Over Minor Children

If you are caring for a child and you are not the biological parent of that child, it might be important to consider seeking guardianship. Guardianships can be sought through the San Diego Probate Court and occasionally through the San Diego Juvenile Court system. A guardianship gives a person, who is not the parent of a child, custody of the child and/or the power to manage the child’s estate. There are two types of guardianships: (1) Guardianship of the Person and (2) Guardianships of the Estate.

Guardianship of the Person: A Guardianship of the Person is similar to a hybrid of physical and legal custody in family law. A parent with legal custody of a child has the right to make decisions regarding the health, safety, wellbeing and education of the child. A guardian is responsible for making decisions regarding the minor’s day-to-day life and overall wellbeing. A parent with physical custody of a child has the right to have the child live with him or her. Similarly, a guardian is responsible for arranging for the child’s care and protection.

Guardianship of the Estate: If a child has assets that should be taken into consideration, a guardianship of the estate may be appropriate. A guardianship of the estate is filed to appoint a person to make decisions regarding the child’s finances, money, or other income. The primary consideration of the guardian is preservation of these funds until the child reaches the age of majority, 18. If you are appointed a guardian of the estate, it is important to consider the many responsibilities and duties owed to the child. The child’s finances must be managed prudently and fiercely protected. Strict records must be kept in order to provide the court an accounting if necessary.

Guardianships can be complicated proceedings. Notice must be given to the child’s relatives and the proposed guardian must file a series of required forms with the court. In order to become a legal guardian, you must undergo an investigation. The party responsible for the investigation depends on the relation of the proposed guardian to the child. Among the many areas investigated are: (1) the social history of the proposed guardian, (2) the social history of the child, (3) the relationship of the proposed guardian to the child, and (4) the anticipated duration of the guardianship. Finally, the court will set a hearing to determine whether the guardian should be appointed. In an emergency situation the court may order a temporary guardianship. However, a temporary guardianship will expire within thirty days if a hearing is not conducted first.

If you are considering seeking a guardianship in order to enroll a child in school or to authorize medical treatment, formal guardianship proceedings may not be necessary. A child may be enrolled in school by a non-relative upon completion of a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit. Additionally, medical and dental treatment can be acquired for the child by a relative with the affidavit.

If you are interested in obtaining a child custody and visitation order, modification, or child support we can provide you with information and guide you through your options. Our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to litigate on your behalf.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, call us at (858) 793-8884.