How to Obtain Permanent Guardianship of a Child

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How to Obtain Permanent Guardianship of a Child

Permanent guardianship over a child is granted when a court believes the child is better off living with his guardian rather than his parents. Courts generally prefer to keep a child with his parents, so guardianship will initially be granted on a temporary trial basis. Guardianship will become permanent if it is still necessary and proper for the best interest of the child.

There are six steps in getting permanent guardianship:

1. Locate a Probate Court

You need to locate the correct probate court. If there are any previous child custody orders, then you should go to the court in that county. Otherwise, you should go to the county where the child is currently living.

For example, if the child was living in Los Angeles with his parents and then moved to San Francisco to live with his grandma, then the grandma should file for guardianship in San Francisco County.

2. Find Child’s Legal Documents

Different courthouses require different legal documents. Generally, you will need to provide them with a copy of the child’s birth certificate. If the child’s parents are deceased, then you will need a copy of the parents’ death certificates.

Additionally, Courts will require you to provide evidence as to why the child’s parents cannot take care of her. You will also need to prove why it is in the best interest of the child for you to be her guardian.

3. Fill Out Court Paperwork

All court paperwork must be filled out correctly and properly. You need to provide your information, the child’s information, and any known information about the child’s parents. The paperwork may also require you to give detailed explanations of the child’s current and past living situations. If there are any misrepresentations on the paperwork, the Court may not give you guardianship.

4. Provide Notice to the Child’s Parents

After filing all the court paperwork, you must provide notice of the filing to the child’s parents before there is a court hearing date. The Court wants to give the parents a fair trial such that they can attend and object to the guardianship. Sending the notice to the parents with a process server or certified mail is enough.

If the parents cannot be located, the notice may be given to a relative of the parents who knows of their whereabouts. And for the situation where the parents are deceased, notice may be given to the person with legal custody or even the county’s human services or social services department.

5. Attend Guardianship Hearing

You must attend the guardianship hearing and bring any evidence to show why it is in the best interest of the child for you to be her guardian.

6. Comply with Court Requirements

You must comply with the Court’s requirement of regular reporting; otherwise, the guardianship may be terminated.

Contacting a Family Lawyer

The guardianship process requires a lot of navigation of the court system. And it may get complicated and more evidence when the parents object to the guardianship. A family lawyer can help you file all the necessary paperwork and speak on your behalf during the court hearings.

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Last Modified: 12-31-2013 11:08 AM PST

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