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A guardianship for a child in California is similar in some ways to an adoption in that an adult who is not the biological parent is assuming the legal responsibilities to care and provide for that child as well as gaining the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf. But, unlike an adoption, a guardianship does not permanently end the biological parents’ parental rights. A guardian is often appointed to care for a child when the parent is unable to do so due to incarceration, substance abuse, military service, or serious illness, and a parent might reassume parental responsibilities when the limiting condition has passed. Guardianships often require several months of work in the courts to finalize, but a temporary guardianship can be granted on an emergency basis while the court considers a permanent guardianship.

The Process for Obtaining a Temporary Guardianship

In California, a person seeking temporary guardianship over a child should apply for a “permanent” or “general” guardianship at the same time. To obtain the temporary guardianship, you will be required to fill out a court form indicating what your relationship to the child is, and why it is necessary for the child to receive temporary support, care, and maintenance from you at this point in time. You will also need to provide notice of the proposed guardianship to the child (if the child is 12 or over), the child’s parents, and any other person who has visitation rights, or provide the court with an explanation for why you should be excused from providing notice to those individuals (e.g. they may be unable to be found).

The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether to approve the temporary guardianship. If the parents of the child consent to your temporary guardianship, the court may have an easier time in approving the guardianship than if the parents withhold their consent.

Common Scenarios for Awarding a Temporary Guardianship

Because a guardianship at least temporarily suspends a parent’s rights, the court will want to see compelling evidence that the temporary guardianship would serve a pressing need and will be in the best interests of the child. Examples of when a court may be willing to approve a temporary guardianship include:

  • Where the child is not receiving needed immediate medical treatment
  • There is not a suitable adult in the child’s life (e.g. the child’s parent is also a minor)
  • The child has been prevented from attending school
  • The child’s parents have recently died
  • The child’s parent has become incarcerated

Remember that a temporary guardianship is, by definition, not permanent, and so a proposed guardian should also be seeking out a permanent guardianship at the same time as a temporary guardianship.

Experienced Attorneys for Your California Guardianship Action

Adoption Law Group is a law firm in Southern California dedicated exclusively to adoption. Our areas of practice include stepparent adoptions, fost-adopt finalizations, agency-assisted adoption finalizations, adult adoptions, guardianships and international readoptions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.