What is a Guardianship?
A court ordered transfer of legal responsibility to a specific adult for the physical care and protection of a minor and/or the assets of a minor. FCS deals only with relative guardianships. Child Protective Services handles all other guardianships.
When is a Guardianship necessary?
When a minor's parents are unable or unwilling to provide care. A legal guardianship gives custody of the minor to a person other than a parent. The guardianship allows the guardian to provide health insurance coverage, enroll a minor in school, receive assets or benefits on behalf of the minor and provide other necessary care and protection.
How to begin a Guardianship?
The adult who wishes to be the legal guardian of a minor must file a petition with the Family Law Clerk's office. Forms may be found at the Judicial Council Forms website under Probate – Guardianships and Conservatorships. For help in filling out the appropriate forms, you may contact the Self-Help Legal Center at the Calaveras Superior Court in San Andreas at (209) 754-1443.
What happens next?
Once the proper forms have been filed, the Clerk's Office will set a court hearing. Family Court Services will conduct an investigation to determine the suitability of the petitioner to have the guardianship of the minor. The report of this study will be sent to the court for the judicial officer's consideration. At the court hearing, the court will make a determination as to whether or not the guardianship is necessary and if the petitioner is suitable. Family Court Services will conduct the investigation only if the petitioner is related to the minor. Non-relative petitions will be investigated by Child Protective Services.
How much does it cost for a Guardianship?
See the fee schedule for fees to file the petition. There are additional fees for investigation service. If the fees present a hardship, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. The Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) is the basic fee waiver form. For additional fees a (FW-002) is required. To learn more about this form and applying for a fee waiver, read the Information Sheet on Waiver of Superior Court Fees and Costs.
What if someone contests the Guardianship?
If more than one person petitions the court for guardianship of a minor, each petitioner will be investigated to determine their suitability. If a parent is contesting the guardianship, the court may order Family Court Services to conduct a full investigation of all parties. The court may also order the Social Services Agency to conduct an investigation into the appropriateness of a parent having custody of the child. Reports of these investigations are confidential and are provided to the court for the judicial officer's consideration.
How long is the Guardianship in effect?
Until the minor reaches the age of 18 or the guardianship is terminated(see below).
Can a Guardianship be terminated?
At any time, a parent may file a petition to terminate the guardianship. The court will order an investigation at that time. The guardian and the parents may agree to mutually terminate the guardianship but the court must legally make the order for termination. The guardian may wish to terminate their responsibility for the minor but there must be an appropriate adult to take over the care and custody of the minor or the minor may be placed into protective custody. If the minor is adopted, the guardianship will terminate.