The guardian of a child is most commonly their parent, but when the parent cannot or will not properly care for a child, then someone else may need to step in. While a grandparent, aunt, or uncle is the most common person to do so, if there is an older sibling, they may have the option to do so. Keep reading to learn more about this process and then contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell if you need to speak to a family law attorney who can help you become the legal guardian to your sibling.
Understanding the Definition of a Legal Guardian
First, let us cover what we mean by “legal guardian.” In California, a guardian is a person who is legally responsible for another person that is under their supervision. Generally speaking, the person who is under the guardianship is under the age of 18, but not always. When a person has a development issue or health issue, then they may be appointed a guardian.
Guardians typically only take physical custody of a child if the parent is not able to care for them. While it may be the result of a dispute about whether or not the parent is capable of caring of the child, it can also be the result of a decision that the family makes together. Common examples of situations in which a guardian is necessary include when the parent is incarcerated, out of the state or country, ill, or deceased.
The Difference Between Guardianship and Adoption or Child Custody
Guardianship is not the same thing as adoption and it is not the same thing as having custody. Custody means that the child lives in your home and that you have legal rights to make decisions on their behalf. Guardianship gives you these custody rights as if you were the parent of the child. Adoption makes you the legal parent. The most important distinction is that you can become a guardian of a child without affecting the custody rights of the parents.
The Two Circumstances Under Which the Courts Most Often Appoint Guardianship
If you want to take over legal guardianship of your sibling, then you will need a court order. There are two many circumstances under which the courts are most likely to grant this request. First, if your sibling was removed from their home and may end up in juvenile detention or foster care if you do not gain guardianship, and if their parent is unavailable and the child needs a caregiver.
These are not the only two situations in which you can gain guardianship of your siblings but they are the most common Whatever your situation is, if you want to become your siblings’ legal guardian, we recommend that you contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell to schedule a consultation.