If you are a grandparent or adult caregiver caring for a young child, then learning more about guardianship law is important. You should take the time to educate yourself about the benefits of legal guardianship and understand just how getting a temporary or permanent guardianship can provide stability for the child in your care and your family.
The appointment of a legal guardian most commonly occurs when a caregiver, a grandparent or some other close relative, is caring for a child because the natural or biological parents cannot. In Los Angeles, a legal guardianship is a legal process to become appointed by the court to care for and provide stability for a child. If the child has inherited significant property, it is also possible for an adult to obtain a guardianship over the child’s estate or property as well. Becoming appointed as a legal guardian over the person of a child and their estate can also be granted by the court at the same time. While most of our family law cases happen in family court, guardianships occur in probate court instead.
If you are a grandparent, close relative or close personal friend acting as a caregiver for a child that is in need and you are thinking about or considering guardianship, it is very important that you find a family law attorney with substantial experience dealing with probate guardianships. Our managing attorney, Edwin Castellanos, has significant experience handling contested and uncontested guardianship cases. In some instances, such as if your matter is uncontested and there will be no contest to your appointment as a guardian, our firm is able to offer you a flat rate to have one of our attorneys assist you with obtaining a legal guardianship in Los Angeles.
Understanding Legal Guardianship in California
If you decide that a child needs a probate guardianship, the first step in the process of establishing guardianship is to fill out and file the petition and other required documents with the clerk of the court. Some counties have additional “local forms” that need to be filed along with the standard forms.
Any interested party or the child, if 12 years or older, may file the petition. You will find that most states may permit a child to nominate a specific person to act as his or her guardian once they reach a certain age. Even though a child may elect to have a specific person appointed as their guardian, there is still an investigation that is performed to determine the suitability and competence of the nominee. In California, it has been determined that a child who is 12 years or older can exercise their right to nominate a guardian. Once the child makes the specific request, the court will consider the child’s preference in appointing the guardian. Also, specific persons must be given notice of the petition, unless excused by the court, before the court can hear the case. If you would like to learn more about basic court procedure in California please read our basic court procedure guide to help you navigate some of the essential procedures such as service of process in the State of California.
As stated above, the court may order that an investigation be completed before it makes it’s decision. If this occurs, you, the child, and any other persons deemed essential will probably be contacted about the case. The investigator will give the court a report and make a recommendation on what should occur. At that stage, the case may go to trial. The court may grant the petition or may find that there are insufficient grounds to establish a guardianship.
There is a fee for filing a guardianship petition and you can learn more about court fees in California here. In addition, you may be charged a fee for a guardianship investigation. If neither you nor the child’s estate can afford to pay the fees, you may request that the court waive the fee requirement. The court clerk can provide you with a fee waiver form.
Once appointed by the court, a legal guardian has the authority and obligation to make decisions affecting the care, education, medical treatment, and supervision of the child.
Some of the key responsibilities of a probate guardian of the person of a child include:
- Determining where the minor lives;
- Ensuring that the child has food, clothing and shelter;
- Providing supervision for the child;
- Enrolling the child in school; and
- Ensuring the child has proper medical care.
Once the guardian is appointed, the parents’ rights to care, supervision and custody of the child are suspended and given to the legal guardian. In addition, there are occasions when we find that the child has inherited significant assets so it becomes necessary to appoint a guardian of the estate to protect the property or the estate.
Some of the important responsibilities of a probate guardian of the estate are:
- Controlling and preserving the assets of the estate property;
- avoiding any conflicts of interest (i.e., self-dealing or using the property for personal profit or gain and taking part in a transaction involving an interest adverse to the minor’s);
- Managing the minor’s property for the child’s benefit until the age of 18.
If you need more information about obtaining a guardianship, please contact one of our Los Angeles guardianship and child custody attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today.
Getting Temporary Guardianship in California
The typical guardianship petition at our firm is filed on behalf of grandparents, relatives or other caring adults who desire to provide stability and care for children who were left in their care by natural or biological parents who could not care for them. In some cases, a local child protective services agency worker informs a grandparent or other close relative that a child is about to be placed in foster care unless a temporary guardianship is obtained. Some guardianships result from a parents use of drugs or involvement within the drug culture, which has left grandparents and other relatives in a position of having to provide a suitable home for these children. In other cases, there is fear that a parent who is unfit will return and remove the child from a stable environment after that child has bonded with a grandparent or other close relatives.
A petition for guardianship of a minor child is usually accompanied by a petition for temporary guardianship, alleging an immediate need for intervention to protect the child from neglect or to protect the child from being abruptly removed from a place where the child has been living for some time or from person(s) with whom the child(ren) have emotionally bonded.
If you are in a situation where there is an emergency or an urgent need to obtain a temporary guardianship of the person, estate, or both, the court may appoint you as a legal guardian of the child upon a showing of “good cause,” until the court can later make a final determination on a petition for appointment of a guardian. If you need to discuss your options, or if you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a grandchild or other child left in your care, call one of our lawyers today to discuss your options for obtaining a temporary guardianship.
Flat Fee Guardianship Attorney in Los Angeles
At Castellanos & Associates, APLC, we offer a $399 flat fee (the flat fee does not include filing fees, investigation fees or other court costs, which are in addition to the flat fee amount for our legal services) for Los Angeles County uncontested guardianship of the person.
What Makes Castellanos & Associates, APLC Different?
Castellanos & Associates, APLC stands out because we believe our firm offers clients tremendous value without sacrificing legal competence, skill and knowledge. Our family law firm is affordable, but we are committed to providing effective legal representation that does not sacrifice quality.
So what does that really mean to you? Our firm is committed to controlling costs so our clients are not typically charged for reasonable, domestic or in-state telephone calls, faxes, or photocopies. In addition, we do not charge a fee for the initial consultation with a guardianship lawyer from our law firm. In some cases, we may provide you with a flat fee arrangement, or we can discuss with you an alternative fee arrangement to help you protect your family.
If you have a minor child living with you because their natural or biological parents are unable to provide stability and care for that child, you should call and schedule a free initial consultation with a guardianship lawyer from Castellanos & Associates, APLC.
In some instances, you may want to discuss the differences between legal guardianship and adoption. Not only are these situations complex, but they require an understanding of the alternatives to legal guardianship so you can provide a stable future for any child who is in your care without assistance from a natural or biological parent.
At Castellanos & Associates, APLC, we have over 40 years of combined experience in child custody cases, probate guardianships and adoptions. By providing you with a free initial consultation to carefully review all of your legal options we can help give you the knowledge you need to provide a stable future for a child who is living with a non-parent caregiver.
Schedule your free initial consultation today with a guardianship lawyer in Los Angeles from the divorce & family law firm of Castellanos & Associates, APLC. If you are spanish-speaking, please inform us at the time you schedule your consultation so you can meet with our experienced spanish-speaking guardianship lawyer, Edwin J. Castellanos.
We look forward to discussing your options for obtaining Legal Guardianship of a Minor. Contact a Los Angeles guardianship lawyer from Castellanos & Associates, APLC today! Request your FREE consultation at (323) 655-2105. We look to speaking to you!