4 Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Guardianship

When your family is in transition, it is important to understand any and all of the options available to you, to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. There are many legal possibilities that lie outside of the usual routes of marriage, divorce, adoption, and the like. One of these things is legal guardianship, but most people are not sure what this entails. It is actually more common than you may realize, and is one of the best tools to keep families intact and keep children in healthy homes.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about legal guardianship:

Q: How is guardianship different from adoption?

A: Guardianship establishes a relationship between a child and an adult who is not their parent, but it does not remove or alter the parent's rights and responsibilities. This is important for biological parents who want to keep their legal relationship intact, for medical, financial, or estate-related reasons.

Q: How long does a guardianship last?

A: Depending on your local laws, most guardianships are considered terminated at the earliest of any of these events: the child's death, the child reaching legal age (typically 18), the child's assets are depleted, or a judge rules that the guardianship is no longer necessary.

Q: How do I know if I need to apply for guardianship?

A: In most cases, if you have a child or children living with you that are not yours, for a period of time longer than a month or two, you may want to consider applying. If the child's biological parents are alive, you may be required to get their written permission to do so. If you wish to care for a child that is not related to you, it's typically advisable to talk to a qualified attorney in Santa Monica. Without a guardianship, you will have trouble doing routine things like obtaining the child's medical care, school registration, or setting up financial benefits for him or her.

Q: Do parents ever need to establish legal guardianship?

A: Surprisingly, yes, in rare circumstances. Even biological parents may need to file a guardianship request, especially when relating to their minor child's finances. For example, if a minor child was directly given a large sum of money (e.g. from a neighbor, friend, teacher, or family member), the parents may need guardianship in order to manage those funds until the child reaches 18 years of age.

Legal guardianship can be confusing, so if you have any questions about how the process works, or how it might benefit your situation, get in touch with the law office of Trabolsi & Levy, LLP today!

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