Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Are you seeking the guardianship of your grandchild?

For many reasons, grandparents are finding it necessary these days to take their grandchildren into their homes and raise them as their own. Sometimes it is because the parents of the children have died, are mentally ill or are dealing with substance addiction. For the safety and well-being of the children, grandparents may put aside their plans for retirement and reorder their lives to provide a stable and loving home for their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent whose grandchildren are living with you, you may feel it is time to take matters to the next step. After all, you really have no legal authority over the children, and this could prove significant if you need to make decisions about their health, education or other issues. For this reason, you may do as many others have done and seek legal guardianship over your grandchildren.

What are the duties of a guardian

The role of a guardian is complicated, and you must be prepared for the enormous responsibility that comes with it. In addition, your family members, particularly the parents of the child, may dispute your decision to take legal charge of the children. You must be certain you are ready for these challenges, but you can also be comforted to know there are advocates and resources available to assist you.

Some of the responsibilities you will hold as a legal guardian include the following:

  • Providing the child with a safe home within the state of California
  • Involving yourself in the child's education, including obtaining special services if necessary
  • Ensuring the child receives appropriate medical and dental care
  • Obtaining counseling or mental health treatment if the child requires it
  • Taking responsibility for legal trouble the child gets into, such as vandalism or motor vehicle accidents
  • Granting or withholding permission for the child to undertake major milestones, such as getting a driver's license or joining the military

You will have legal authority to make most parental decisions regarding the child as you see fit. However, you may not move out of state with the child, and you may not relinquish the child to the parents once the court grants you legal guardianship. For some decisions, such as allowing the child to get married, you will need to cooperate with the court in reaching a decision.

For a more thorough understanding of your rights and responsibilities, as well as the process of obtaining guardianship of your grandchildren, you can seek the advice of a compassionate attorney.

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