Guardianship Caregiver Project
What is a Guardianship?
Guardianship is when a court orders someone other than the parent to:
- Have custody of the child; or
- Manage the child’s property (called “estate”‘); or
If custody of a child is awarded to a non-parent through the juvenile dependency court, guardianship is not needed.
Guardianship vs Adoption
A Guardianship is not the same as an adoption.
In a Guardianship:
- Parents still have parental rights. They can ask for reasonable contact with the child.
- The court can end a guardianship if it decides it is in the child’s best interest.
- Guardians are required to keep the court updated yearly, or as needed, regarding change of address and the child’s wellbeing
In an Adoption:
- The biological parent’s rights are permanently ended.
- The legal relationship with the adoptive parents is permanent and is the same as a birth family.
- An adopted child inherits from their adoptive parents, just as a birth child would.
The court does not supervise adoptive families.
In the guardianship of the person, the guardian has the same responsibilities to care for the child as a parent would. That means the guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child and can make all the decisions about the physical care of the child that a parent would make. A guardian can be anyone: relatives, friends of the family, or other people suitable to raise the child.
The guardian is responsible for the child’s care, including the child’s:
- Food, clothing, and shelter
- Safety and protection
- Physical and emotional growth
- Medical and dental care
- Education and any special needs
The guardian is also responsible for the supervision of the child and may be liable for any intentional damage the child may cause.
A guardianship of the person is sometimes needed when no matter how much parents love their child(ren), they cannot parent.
Is Guardianship Right for You?
Before you decide to become a guardian, ask yourself these questions:
Do you want legal responsibility for the child?
You will have the same legal responsibilities as a parent, including responsibility for intentional damages the child may cause or for negligent supervision of the child. As a guardian, you must also manage the child’s finances, keep careful records, give the court reports and ask the court for permission to handle certain financial matters.
How will the guardianship affect you and your family?
You will be like the child’s parent. This can affect your relationship with other family members. Think about your time, energy, and health to decide if you want to be, or can be, a guardian.
Do you have enough money?
The child may get income from Social Security, public assistance, child support from the parents, or an inheritance from a deceased parent. But child support does not always arrive, even if the court orders it, and the money you get for the minor may not be enough. You may have to spend your own money to raise the child.
Will there be problems with the child’s relatives?
If the child’s parents are alive, will they support you as guardian, or will they be angry with you and try to interfere? Some parents may fight guardianship, or the court may say they can have regular visitation.
Guardianship Caregiver Project
The Guardianship Caregiver Project assists caregivers who would like to obtain guardianship of a child age five or younger (and their older siblings) to prevent abuse or neglect.
Project advocates represent prospective guardians by:
- preparing and filing guardianship petitions,
- responding to objections,
- representing our clients in mediation and guardianship hearings, and
- preparing post-hearing letters and orders.
The Kern County Superior Court has a Self-Help Center to assist with various services. Located at 1215 Truxtun Ave, The Self-Help Center is available by appointment only.
To schedule an appointment, call 661-868-2532. https://www.kern.courts.ca.gov/self_help/families_and_children
Forms can be located at the Kern County Superior Court website: https://www.courts.ca.gov/1214.htm
The Kern County Law Library, located at 1415 Truxtun Ave, may also be able to assist at https://kclawlib.org/
For more information on Guardianship, please visit our website for informational videos at
Paperwork for guardianship is filed through probate court at the Juvenile Justice Center, located at 2100 College Ave, Dept. J-1