A Guide to California Guardianships for Minor Children

Our children are our future. It’s important that they have the resources, tools, and support needed to grow, learn, and prosper. This becomes a significant challenge when a minor child in California either loses their parents or has parents who are otherwise unable to fulfill their child’s needs.

Guardianships in California offer protection and peace of mind for the days, weeks, and months to come, but they often get confused with conservatorships which serve a different purpose and are governed by a different set of guidelines. It’s important to understand what guardianship means for children and any living parents at the time a guardianship is established.

What is a California Guardianship?

A guardianship for minor children in California is a court order that appoints a guardian to make vital decisions on behalf of a child and to care for their needs. These responsibilities are far-reaching and include managing a child’s:

  • Finances
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Food
  • Housing
  • Overall safety

How is a Guardianship Established?

To establish guardianship over a minor child in California, an interested party will file a case for a fee of $435 (these fees can be waived in certain circumstances). Once this happens, a hearing is scheduled to offer any living parents an opportunity to either support or defend against the guardianship.

The court will consider the facts of the case and the needs of a child before making a final decision. Parental rights are suspended for the duration of the guardianship as the guardian assumes those rights and responsibilities. This is not always permanent, however. Some parents need guardianship because they will be unavailable for an extended period of time and others need it while they recover from an injury or overcome significant financial or legal obstacles.

Who Can Serve as a Guardian in California?

Any adult in California who is considered to have the capacity and capability to care for a minor child is eligible for guardianship. People who have been convicted of crimes, especially violent felonies, are generally ineligible to become a guardian of a minor child in California, however.

The court often favors family members or adults who have an established relationship with the child but this is not a requirement.

What is a Guardian of the Estate?

In some cases, a guardian is only needed to manage finances on behalf of a minor child. This is referred to as a guardian of the estate. In this case, you are not managing day-to-day needs such as healthcare or education. You are simply handling the financial affairs of the minor child in need. Even if you are the biological parent, if your child is entitled to money, you would need to establish a guardianship to have access to and manage that money. 

Establish Guardianship of a Minor Child in California TodayAt Dahl Law Group, we are protective of the children of California and the community they need around them. We understand that guardianships are necessary for some families and regularly work with clients to establish these as well as parents who need assistance through the process. Contact our team if you believe a minor child of your own or someone else’s needs the oversight and care of a California guardianship.

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