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Guardianship Division

Guardianship is a court proceeding in which a judge gives someone who is not the parent:

  • custody of a child, or
  • the power to manage the child's property (called "estate"), or
  • both.
There are two types of Guardianship:

  • Guardianship of the Person which means the guardian has custody of the child.
  • Guardianship of the Estate which means the guardian manages the child's income, money or other property until the child turns 18.
But, if Child Welfare Services (CWS) is involved in your case, you probably have to go to the juvenile court to find out what you can do. You can find more information on juvenile court here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Guardianship the Same as Adoption?

No. Here are some differences: In a Guardianship:

  • Parents still have parental rights.
  • They can have reasonable contact with the child.
  • The Court can end a guardianship if the parents become able to take care of the child.
  • Guardians are supervised by the court.
In an Adoption:
  • The parents' rights are permanently ended.
  • The legal relationship with the adopted parents is permanent and is exactly the same as a birth family.
  • An adopted child inherits from his or her adoptive parent(s), just as a birth child would.
  • Adoptive families are not supervised by the court.

What does a Guardian of the Person do?

For the most part, the guardian has the same responsibilities as a parent. That means the guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child. The guardian is responsible for the child's care, including the child's:

  • Food, clothing and shelter
  • Safety and protection
  • Physical and emotional growth
  • Medical and dental care
  • Education and any special needs
  • The guardian may also be responsible for the child's behavior and any damage the child may cause.

Why would a child need a guardian?

Sometimes, no matter how much parents love their child, they aren't able to take care of their child. Maybe one or both parents:

  • have a serious physical illness,
  • are in the military and have to go overseas,
  • have to go to a rehab program for a while,
  • are going to jail for a while,
  • have a drug or alcohol abuse problem,
  • have a history of abuse, or
  • can't take care of their child for some other reason.
The court will look at what is in the best interest of the child to make sure the child is raised in a safe, stable and loving environment. A legal guardian can care for a child when the parents aren't able to.

Who can be a guardian?

Relatives, friends of the family, or other people can ask to be legal guardians.

Can a child ask the Court for a guardian?

Yes. If the child is 12 or older, s/he can ask the court to appoint a guardian.

What is a Guardianship of the Estate?

A guardianship of the estate is set up to manage a child's income, money, or other property until the child turns 18. A child may need a guardian of the estate if s/he inherits money or assets. In most cases, the court appoints the surviving parent to be the guardian of the child's estate.

In some cases the same person can be the guardian of the person and of the estate. In other cases, the court will appoint two different people.

What does a Guardian of an Estate do?

The guardian of the estate's must:

  • manage the child's money,
  • make smart investments, and
  • manage the child's property carefully.

When do I need to set up a guardianship of the estate?

A guardianship of the estate is created to manage a child's property. It is needed when: the child owns or receives a lot of property, like if a child inherited a house or a large amount of money.

When is a guardianship of the estate not needed?

A guardianship of the estate is not needed when:

  • a child only owns inexpensive toys and clothing,
  • the child receives social security benefits or TANF/CalWorks (welfare)
If you aren't sure if a guardianship of the estate is needed, talk to a private attorney.

How much does filing for guardianship cost?

Petition for the Guardianship of the person only is $205, Guardianship of person AND estate is $355. For the current fees for filing a guardianship of the person or a guardianship of the estate, please see the current fee schedule for Humboldt County Superior Court, which can be found here (PDF 240 Kb).

If you are low-income, you may be able to qualify for a fee waiver and not have to pay a filing fee. Fee Waiver forms and information can be found here.

If you are applying for a guardianship of the person and are related to the child you are asking for guardianship of, there may also be a fee for the guardianship investigation. A guardianship investigation is performed by the Probation Department a month or two after the guardianship petition is filed. A guardianship investigator will visit you, walk through your home, and ask questions about why the guardianship is needed. The investigator will then file a report with the court regarding whether the guardianship is appropriate. This fee can be several hundred dollars, but you may be eligible for a reduced fee or a payment plan if you are low-income. Payment arrangements must be made with the Probation Department, not the court.

Petition for the Guardianship of the person only is $205, Guardianship of person AND estate is $355
Where can I get help with the paperwork for filing for a guardianship of the person?

The Civil Self-Help Center can assist you with completing the paperwork to ask the court for Guardianship of the Person of a minor child.

You can pick up the forms you will need to ask the court for a guardianship of the person at the courthouse for a fee, or you can download them here:

Guardianship of the Persons packet (ZIP)
This packet contains the files below:

  1. GC-205 - Guardianship Pamphlet
  2. GC-210(P) - Petition for Appointment of Guardian of the Person
  3. GC-210(CA) - Guardianship Petition—Child Information Attachment
  4. GC-120 - Declariation Under Uniform Child Custody Juristiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
  5. GC-212 - Confidential Guardian Screening Form
  6. GC-211 - Consent of Proposed Guardian, Nomination of Guardian, and Consent to Appointment of Guardian and Waiver of Notice
  7. GC-020 - Notice of Hearing-Guardianship or Conservatorship
  8. GC-248 - Duties of Guardian
  9. Order Apointing Court Investigator for Guardianship of the Person
  10. GC-240 - Order Appointing-Guardian of Minor
  11. GC-250 - Letters of Guardianship
  12. GC-110(P) - Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian of the Person
  13. GC-140 - Order Appointing Temporary Guardian
  14. GC-150 - Letters of Temporary Guardianship or Conservatorship
  15. GC-020 (again) - Notice of Hearing-Guardianship or Conservatorship
  16. GC-510 - What is "Proof of Service" in a Guardianship?
  17. What to do after you have completed your forms
If you need assistance with completing the forms to ask for guardianship, or have any questions, please contact the Self-Help Center to make an appointment by phone at (707) 269-1283.

Please note that the Civil Self-Help Center assists with guardianships of the person of minor children only. The Civil Self-Help Center does not assist with guardianships of the estate of a minor or conservatorship of adult.



Contact Information:

The Family Law Division of Humboldt County Superior Court handles all Guardianship Cases.

Superior Court of California
421 I Street, Eureka, CA
Office hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone: (707) 445-7256
© 2014 Superior Court of the County of Humboldt