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What Is Guardianship In California?

Updated: 4 hours ago

How A Minor Child's Well-Being And Estate Is Handled In California


In a guardianship, a judge may grant a responsible adult control over a minor child's estate, custody of the child, or both.

Guardianships are frequently dealt with in probate court. That said, if a child is a dependent of the juvenile court, then only the court can legally name a guardian for that child. Only minors are eligible to be under guardianship. You must apply for a conservatorship if you need to take control of a disabled adult, their estate, or both.


That said, let's look at the basics of guardianship of a child in California and how it works, based on the experience of our prescreened California family lawyers.


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What Is A Legal Guardian In California?

When a child is a minor and has guardianship, an individual can make choices on the child's behalf. Control is transferred from a biological or adoptive parent to another person under guardianship on a temporary or permanent-term basis. A minor's guardian is typically chosen when their legal parent becomes incapacitated, disabled, or passes away.

Informal guardianship, temporary legal guardianship, and permanent legal guardianship are the three categories of guardianship. The authority given to the guardians may include one or more of the following, depending on the form of guardianship:

  • Ensuring the upkeep and care of someone else

  • Making choices regarding finances, health, and education

  • Annually informing the court of the guardianship status

In short, guardianship transfers significant authority while the child is not legally an adult. This is crucial, and the choice of guardians could affect the child and their estate long-term. In these scenarios, it's always best to consult a lawyer for guardianship in California before making any crucial decisions.


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Probate Guardianship Of A Child In California

Guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate are the two types of guardianship for minor children. The child and the child's estate may be under the care of the same guardian. When neither parent is able nor willing to care for the child, a guardian of the person is in charge of the child's upbringing.

In this section, we'll discuss the estate aspect of guardianship in California, as detailed in Probate Code Section 1500–1611.

A guardian is usually chosen by considering the following factors:

  • The judge may choose a guardian based on a nomination, the parents' preferences, petitions for guardianship, and court proceedings.

  • If a child is 12 or older, their preference for a guardian may be taken into account, too.

  • The best interests of the child are the priority for choosing their guardian.

Since a guardian can make choices on a child's behalf, adherence to legal regulations is crucial. An investigator for the court will interview all other family members and potential witnesses before making a referral to the judge. Depending on the child's best interests, the judge may or may not appoint a guardian during the court hearing.


Again, this process can be complicated. Consult with a California guardianship attorney if you're family or applying as a child's legal guardian.

Juvenile Dependency Guardianship

A guardianship may be granted when a child becomes a dependent of the court depending on the following factors:

  • The specifics of the child's case

  • The needs of the child

  • The stage of the case when the petition for guardianship is filed

The juvenile court performs hearings every six months after a child is removed from their parents to consider placement possibilities.


The process for delinquency cases is largely the same. You can write a letter to the juvenile court judge outlining your relationship with the child, how long you've known the child, and your justifications for guardianship to ask the court for guardianship of a court dependent. You can also speak with the designated social worker or probation officer.


guardianship of a child in california

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