Parents have obligations to their children under the law in California. Children need housing, food, clothing and other basic supplies so that they can grow up healthy and pursue their necessary education.
Unfortunately, not all parents are able to easily meet the obligations that come with having a child. Some will struggle from the first moments of parenthood, while others may develop medical issues, wind up incarcerated or acquire an addiction that affects their parenting skills later in life.
Whether your sibling, child or cousin died, became incarcerated or simply can’t take care of their kids, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to step up to take care of your family member’s children. In order to protect yourself and the kids, you might want to seek a guardianship from the California courts.
What is a guardianship in California?
Guardianship refers to someone other than the adoptive or biological parents of a child meeting the needs of that child. Many times, family members who step into the role of a guardian do so in an informal way.
They don’t ask the state to acknowledge them, which might mean that they don’t get resources that would benefit the family. They could also be in a vulnerable position if their family member suddenly decides they want the children back, regardless of whether their ability to care for them has improved.
In order to secure guardianship, you will typically either need the permission of the parent who will rescind their rights or an order by the state courts acknowledging that the parent does not provide for the needs of the child and allowing you to do so. If you think you may need to seek a guardianship, discussing the process with an attorney is a good step to take before you approach the children or your family member about this choice.