San Jose Guardianship Attorney
Most parents want to make the right choices for their children, but there are some circumstances when a friend or family member needs to step in to help for a short period of time. A guardianship becomes necessary when that short period becomes an extended — or permanent — period.
Our San Jose guardianship attorneys at Foster Hsu, LLP, can help you take the right steps so that you can provide the best care for your children. Call our San Jose office at 408-841-7200 to make an appointment.
What Can Guardianship Help You Do?
Typically, someone will seek guardianship when either the children’s biological or adoptive parents have passed away, or their parents are not able to provide adequate care. Guardianship allows a person to help the child with important tasks, including:
- Enrolling in school
- Going to the doctor and other medical care providers
- Getting permission for activities and trips
- Being involved in sports or other extracurricular activities
What is the Process for Setting up a Guardianship in California?
The first step in the court process involves preparing and filing all required forms with the clerk of the county court. There will be at least ten forms to complete, and maybe more, depending on the rules in the local court where you are filing. Typically, the proper court is the court in the county where the child lives, but if the child is part of a child custody case or subject to custody orders in another county, you’ll need to file in that county court.
Next, you’ll need to give notice of the proposed guardianship to the child, the child’s relatives, several state and county government agencies, and other persons as required by law. You don’t deliver this notice personally; instead, you follow the service of process rules required by the court. You can hire a process service for this task, or in some cases, the local sheriff serves process for a fee. Proof of service must be filed with the court for each person or agency served.
Obtain consent forms and waiver of notice forms from relatives, which signifies they don’t object to the guardianship and don’t need to be kept informed of the proceedings as they progress.
The court investigator assigned to your case will interview you and recommend to the judge whether you should be the guardian or not. The investigator may also interview the child and the parents, if they are available.
The judge holds a court hearing to review your case and decide whether you can serve as guardian.
You’ll next need to participate in a formal home study conducted by the court investigator or department of social services. A home study includes a visit to the home, more interviews, a review of the child’s medical and educational records, and a background check on all adults living in the home where the child will live.
The court holds a hearing, at which you’ll attend. Bring the child with you, along with all court papers and documents. Be prepared to answer questions from the judge about why you want to be the child’s guardian.
If the judge issues an order for guardianship (which you’ve previously prepared), you’ll file that court order with the clerk.
You are now a guardian. You’ll continue to complete status reports annually and as required by the court, which monitors how the guardianship is going.
What if it’s an emergency?
The guardianship process takes time, but it’s possible to apply for a temporary guardianship in an emergency situation. You must show good cause for a temporary guardianship. Examples include:
- The child needs immediate medical treatment
- The child needs to enroll in school
- Both parents have died, become incarcerated or incapacitated, or abandoned the child
- The child’s parent is a minor
There are a handful of extra forms needed to file for a temporary guardianship, and you’ll want to file for a general guardianship at the same time to avoid further disruption in the child’s life.
Does a Guardian Have Control Over the Child’s Assets as Well?
The answer depends on the type of guardianship you file. You can obtain a guardianship over the person, a guardianship over the estate, or both. The type of guardianship you file depends on the unique situation and needs of the child. There are different forms to complete depending on the type of guardianship.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Become a Guardian?
Technically no, but as the California courts website states, it takes a lot of time and energy to prepare and file the appropriate documents and give notice to all relatives, and most people make mistakes when they try to do it on their own. Time is often of the essence in a guardianship proceeding, and the last thing you want is to have to start over multiple times because of mistakes or have the guardianship denied. An experienced California guardianship lawyer can advise and represent you throughout the entire process for an efficient and successful outcome.
Our San Jose Guardianship Attorneys are Ready to Help
There can be a lot of pieces to the puzzle when it comes time to establish guardianship in California. Our San Jose guardianship attorneys can help you through the process of what to do and how to work with parents who do not understand they need help. Contact us online or call our San Jose office at 408-841-7200 to consult with an attorney.