The policy of California aims to keep parents and children together. However, when a child’sparents become unfit to raise the child due to drugs, abuse,or criminal activityand can no longer competently care for the minor, the court may appoint an individual to act as the legal guardian of the child. A guardianship takes place when the court orders custody of a child to an adult other than the parent. This may include custody of the child,managing the child’s property, or both.
Every minor under the age of eighteen must have an individual over the age of eighteen who is responsible for the welfare of the child, unless the child has been emancipated. The need for a guardian arises when the minor has been abused by his or her parents, the parents have abandoned the child, or the parents have passed away. Guardianships for minors typically endwhen the minor reaches the age of majority.
A guardianship can be created in two instances: first, as a probate guardianship, and second, when the child at issue is subject to abuse or neglect by his or her parents and becomes a dependent of the court. The court aims to find an adult who will act in the best interest of the minor child.
There are two types of probate guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. Guardianship of the person means that the guardian has the same responsibilities in caring for the child as a parent would. The guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child and can make all decisions regarding the care of the child. The guardian is also responsible for the child’s health, safety and welfare.
A guardianship of the estate is set up to manage the child’s income, money orother property of the child’s until he or she turns eighteen years old. The child may need a guardian of the estate to manage the child’s finances, income or other assets until the child turns eighteen and can take possession of all of the assets himor herself. The same person can be the guardian of the minorand the guardian of the estate, or two separate people can be appointed. A guardian of the estate is not necessary if the child only owns inexpensive toys and clothing, or receives social security benefits or welfare.
Guardianship is a complicated and intricate area of the law. The knowledge of an attorney is vital when considering becoming a guardian for a child. Once appointed, a guardian has many duties and responsibilities to a minor. To help you fully understand your legal obligations, Davies Wegner Law offers a free consultation to answer your questions and provide you with information regarding the laws of guardianship. Please call us at 310-481-0300 to set up an appointment.