Temporary guardianship in California means that an adult – someone over the age of 18 – is responsible for a child for a set period of time. The guardian can make decisions related to finances, education, medical care and other important issues, and he or she is responsible for the child’s care, as well.
Temporary Guardianship in California: The Basics
There are several reasons the courts award temporary guardianship to an adult other than a child’s parent. For example, the courts could intervene when a child:
- Is not receiving necessary medical treatment
- Does not have suitable adults in his or her life (such as when the child’s parent is also a minor)
- Has been prevented from going to school
- Cannot be with his or her parents for a variety of reasons, such as incarceration, military service or death
If you want to become a child’s temporary guardian, be prepared to prove that guardianship is necessary for the child’s well-being. Some of the reasons courts will grant a person temporary guardianship involve a parent’s drug addiction or alcoholism, domestic violence situations, deportation or serious illness.
Any adult can ask to become a child’s temporary guardian, provided that he or she is at least 18 years old and has never been convicted of a crime. The courts can take the child’s wishes into account, as well. Grandparents, aunts or uncles, siblings and other relatives may petition to be a guardian, as can family friends and people who know and love the child.
How Do You Get Temporary Guardianship in California?
A child’s biological parents can give you temporary guardianship – but sometimes the courts step in and award someone temporary guardianship of a child without the parents’ consent. For most people, the best course of action is to talk to an attorney about this type of guardianship (even with the parents’ consent), because it’s a very serious matter and affects parental rights.
In order for the court to appoint someone as a child’s legal guardian, the judge presiding over the case must be satisfied that it’s in the child’s best interests.
How Long Does Temporary Guardianship Last in California?
Temporary guardianship only lasts for a certain period of time – usually not longer than 6 months. If the child still needs a guardian after the temporary order expires, you can start the temporary guardianship process again or file for permanent guardianship through the court.
Custody and Temporary Guardianship
When you’re granted temporary guardianship of a child, you assume all the legal rights and responsibilities of being a parent. The biological parents’ rights are suspended while the guardianship order is in place – they cannot make decisions for the child. (It’s important to know that parental rights are not terminated, as in permanently taken away, with a temporary guardianship order. They’re only suspended for as long as the order lasts.)
As a child’s guardian, you have full legal and physical custody of the child. You make decisions about:
- You decide where the child should attend school, and you’re entitled to all the child’s school records.
- Living situation. You determine where the child lives, although you can’t change the child’s residence to a place outside of California unless the court gives you permission.
- Medical treatment. You’re responsible for meeting the child’s medical needs, and generally, you have the authority to give your consent to his or her medical treatment. However, if the child is 14 or older, you can only consent to surgery on the child if the child agrees or you have a court order for it – except, of course, in emergencies.
You’ll have other responsibilities, too, such as providing for the child financially and taking responsibility for a child’s misconduct. As a guardian, the court might require you to complete counseling or parenting classes, or to get specific services for the child; every case is different, but your attorney can help you understand what needs to happen in your situation.
What About Joint Guardianship?
Joint guardianship is an option when one parent has a serious medical condition and needs another adult to care for his or her child. The guardian still gets to make the same decisions as he or she would under any other circumstances – just in partnership with the child’s biological parent. If the child’s biological parent passes away, the guardian automatically becomes the sole legal guardian of the child.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Temporary Guardianship in California?
If you need to talk to an attorney about temporary guardianship, we can help you. Call us at 209-546-6246 to schedule a consultation today.