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Pasadena Guardianship Lawyer

Understanding Laws of Guardianship in California

Family law is an extremely convoluted area of law that often involves difficult and emotional decisions, especially when children are involved. Ultimately, the role of the court in family law cases is to determine the best interest of the child and make decisions accordingly. One of the decisions that must sometimes be made is the appointment of guardianship. This is typically required in cases in which one or more parent has passed away or is determined unfit to raise and care for the child.

Whether you are a parent facing the prospect of losing your child to a guardian or are a family member concerned for the physical and emotional well-being of a loved one, our Board certified family lawyer can help you understand the laws of guardianship. Christine Gille has a wide breadth of experience handling family law cases, and as one of the few and most respected minors' counsel attorneys in Los Angeles, she makes children her first priority.

Guardianship vs. Adoption

Adoption and guardianship may seem similar in that a child lives with and is cared for by someone who is not his or her birth parent. However, the two are different in their legal terms, length, and method. Adoption is generally a consenting arrangement between birth parents and other individuals in which parental rights are transferred permanently and adopters assume the role of parents. Guardianship, on the other hand, is a court-ordered arrangement in which an individual other than the child's parent assumes custody of the child and/or control of the child's estate, but the birth parents remain lawfully the parents of the child.

Essentially, adoption is typically carried out by choice of the birth parents and becomes a permanent familial relationship and a child inherits from his or her adoptive parents. Guardianship is an arrangement that is either established as part of an estate or probate to take effect upon the death of the parents, or is ordered by the court because of the parent's unfit conditions. In a guardianship, the child maintains any inheritances from his or her birth parents. Finally, a court can supervise a guardian under certain circumstances, but will not supervise adoptive parents.

A court will typically order a guardianship if one or both parents:

  • Has a physical or mental condition that is serious and possibly dangerous for the child
  • Is submitted to a rehabilitation program
  • Is convicted and sentenced to jail or prison
  • Is in the military and stationed overseas
  • Suffers from drug or alcohol abuse
  • Shows history of abuse or violence

Guardianship of the Person vs. Estate

There are two different types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. A court will either assign one individual to play both roles, or will assign two separate guardians for each role, depending on circumstance. Unless ended by the court, guardianship will typically apply until the child reaches 18, the legal age of consent.

A guardian of the person's responsibilities include:

  • Providing basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter
  • Providing protection and safety
  • Allowing for and encouraging physical and emotional growth
  • Providing medical and dental care
  • Providing education and accommodations for special needs

Additionally, a guardian of the person assumes liability for the child, meaning that he or she will be responsible if any intentional damage is caused by the child to another's person or property. This type of guardianship will either be assigned after the birth parents' death or in accordance to the best interest of the child in an effort to ensure that he or she has a stable and loving environment.

Guardianship of the estate holds the following responsibilities:

  • Control and protect child's money
  • Making educated investment decisions
  • Managing the child's property

This sort of guardianship is typically assigned in cases where the child owns or inherits valuable property and is typically not required if a child owns little to no valuable assets. It is also not needed for inheritance of social security or welfare benefits.

Retain Trusted Legal Counsel in Pasadena

If you are seeking further information about guardianship and how it can affect your family, our team of legal professionals is here to help. We understand the emotional nature of family law cases and have the delicate balance of aggressiveness and compassion that these issues require. When you come to our firm, you can feel confident in the expert legal counsel that our attorney can provide to ensure that the best interests of your children are upheld and that you and your family are protected.

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