California Child Guardianship Laws

It’s unfortunate, but there’s a chance that a child you know has been abused, neglected, or otherwise can’t be cared for by the parents. When that happens, you may be thinking of taking over the guardianship of the child. However, what does this mean for you and the child, and how can you do it?

Legal guardianship is different from adoption or other forms of child care, so be sure you know what to expect when you’re planning on becoming a child’s legal guardian.

If you’re struggling with your case, you’ll need to consult a lawyer before you fight for guardianship. They’ll have the resources you need to understand the laws around child guardianship and what you’ll need to know before you become their guardian.

Child Guardianship Rights

Before taking guardianship of the child, note that your rights as a guardian are not the same as the birth or adoptive parent. This is because taking legal guardianship of the child doesn’t invalidate the rights of the parents.

For example, let’s say one or both parents are unable to afford the care the child needs. They can’t feed or clothe the child, but the child still deserves a stable, safe environment to live and grow. When this happens, their legal guardian will take over the care of the child while the parent or parents can no longer afford to do so.

However, as their guardian, you won’t have full legal rights to the child. The parents will still have the same legal rights as a parent and can still contact and act in some ways as parents. If the parents are then able to return to their duties as parents, the courts can take custody away from the guardian and return the child to their parents.

Acting in The Child’s Best Interests

As such, the legal guardian doesn’t have the full rights of a parent. Instead, they’ll act in the interim to make sure the child’s best interests are met. However, what does this include?

Often, legal guardianships cover two areas: the physical care of the child, and the care for the child’s estate. If you’re concerned about either of these areas for the child, consult a guardianship lawyer about what you can do about their care.

Managing the Child’s Custody

A major part of the child’s best interests will be making sure that the child has everything necessary for a safe and healthy life. This includes the following:

  • Food and water
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Emotional and mental care

It’s important that a child’s needs are met, and a legal guardian may be necessary to meet that. A child’s guardian should cover any of these needs that the parents are unable to provide because of their situation.

Managing the Child’s Estate

In some cases, you might be dealing with a child who has inherited a large sum of money or an expensive piece of property. For example, they might have been left a house or a large investment fund of which they’re not old enough to own.

While the property or money is the child’s and should just be used for their best interests, a child can’t manage and care for those things. As such, a legal guardian may be necessary to make sure the child’s financial needs are handled.

A Guardianship Lawyer Can Help

Child guardianship can be complex, so you’ll need to get started with a strong grasp on California’s laws about guardianship and what rights you have. It’s important to start out with this knowledge, so you can give the child the best care possible and be prepared for the case.

Whether you’re getting a divorce or will otherwise be unable to take care of your child for some time, or if you might be taking custody of a child, be sure you understand what your rights are. You’ll need to provide the child with the best care possible, so take care to get them that help.

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