Sometimes single parents and parents with serious health conditions must think about temporary or permanent guardianship options for their kids. Legal guardianship allows a parent to formally relinquish control and care of a child to another person.

It is sometimes possible for a guardian to change a temporary guardianship to full guardianship. Because guardianship laws are different in every state, and the courts are likely to rule in favor of the child’s best interests, it’s important to work closely with a dedicated family law firm in Orange County throughout the process.

What Is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a court process that awards custody of a child to someone other than the child’s parent. The child, often called a minor, must be under 18 years, while the guardian should be an adult of over 18 years.

The guardian is given the power to be responsible for the child’s welfare, make decisions related to education, medical care, finances, etc., and/or manage the child’s property. A guardian is usually appointed upon disability, incapacity, or death of the legal parent (adoptive or biological parent). Remember, guardianship is different from adoption.

There are three types of guardianships in California: informal guardianship, temporary guardianship, and permanent/full legal guardianship.

Informal Guardianship

Some situations force a minor child to live with a relative or friend for a short period as a parent recovers from a setback. The friend or relative may assume responsibility for the child informally without involving the family courts in California. However, it has limitations as they cannot make legal decisions concerning the child since they lack formal legal custody.

Temporary Guardianship

As the name implies, it is guardianship with a time limit and is set up to meet a particular goal. In California, this period may not be longer than six months. However, once the objective of the order has been met, the guardianship automatically expires.

Sometimes temporary legal guardianship is awarded in emergency situations pending a full hearing on the formal full guardianship proceedings. The courts can grant temporary guardianship for a number of reasons. For instance, when a child:

  • Doesn’t have suitable adults in his/her life (e.g., the parent is also a minor)
  • Is being stopped from attending school
  • Isn’t getting the necessary medical attention
  • Cannot be with the parent for some reason, e.g., due to incarceration, death, military service, etc.

If you want to temporarily be a child’s guardian, prepare to prove that guardianship is the best option for the child’s well-being. Your Orange County guardianship lawyer can help you develop solid reasons why they should grant you temporary guardianship for a certain period.

Permanent/Full Guardianship

Full or permanent guardianship is hard to end or change once granted. It often creates a stable environment for the child’s growth and development as the permanent guardian has all the rights over the child as the natural parents would have.

However, it’s not as permanent as it ends once the child attains the age of 18. In some rare instances, parents may petition the courts to give back custody of the child even after an order has been issued lacing the child with a permanent guardian.

Where Should I File for Legal Guardianship in California?

A guardianship petition should be filed in the county the minor lives or in the county that is in the minor’s best interest. If the child is not a resident of Orange County, it will take additional time to process the case.

Similarly, if there were prior guardianship orders or family law custody orders that involve the minor, a modification petition of those orders should be filed in the county in which they were issued. Besides, filing for a guardianship petition in California requires the minor to have resided in the state for at least six months before filing.

How Can I Establish Guardianship in California?

A person must complete and file papers in court. You can access them at the Self-Help Center, a stationery store, or bookstore.

If there’s an emergency and you need to file for temporary guardianship, you can get the forms at the same place you get the legal guardianship forms. You can then submit them to the court clerk at the same time as you submit the Petition for Legal Guardianship.

Because of the amount of paperwork needed, notices you have to give, and follow-ups you have to make, let an experienced guardianship attorney in Santa Ana, CA, help you.

How Do I Change from Temporary to Full Guardianship?

Once the temporary guardianship ends, a guardian can ask for full guardianship if it’s clear that the parents aren’t still able to care for the child, and they won’t be able to in the near future. However, if the parents are still alive, they have a right to object to it because they will be notified of this request.

Do I Need a Family Lawyer for Setting Up Guardianship?

While you can do it yourself, it takes time and energy to fill out court forms and notifying all relatives. It’s common for mistakes to happen, and this means more time in court. A guardianship lawyer will sometimes represent you in court, especially if there is an objection from the parents.

Learn Your Legal Options with the Help of Professionals in Orange County

A skilled attorney will advise you on your duties and responsibilities, the minor’s rights, limits of your authority, and how to deal with the court. But remember that the courts always act in the best interests of the child.

If you’re considering temporary or full guardianship in Orange County, talk to a family law attorney experienced in California guardianship law. At Sarieh Law Offices, we may be able to offer you more information on the different types of guardianship and help you understand your options.