Guardianships are heard in the superior court. A guardianship is where the court appoints an adult person, entity or institution to care for the person and/or the estate of a minor.
A guardianship is used only for a minor. A minor who is legally married or divorced, cannot have a guardian appointed. A minor for whom a guardian has been appointed is called a "ward". The guardian is the person appointed by the court to care for the ward. Guardianships may be temporary, meaning for a limited time, or they may be general.
A guardianship may be created for the care of a minor, or the estate of a minor, or for both. The procedure for obtaining a guardianship is similar to that for a conservatorship, and many of the same forms are used. A guardian must preserve the minor’s estate for the minor’s benefit and anyone the minor is obligated to support. The guardian has a direct responsibility to the best interests of the minor just as a parent would for his or her own child.
A guardian is subject to the regulations and control of the court in performing his or her duties. A guardian is required to understand and acknowledge his or her duties and liabilities, and must be familiar with the contents of a handbook explaining those duties. The handbook can be obtained at the court Clerk’s office.
Before a guardian can be appointed, the court will conduct an investigation to determine whether appointment of the guardian will be in the best interests of the child. The investigator may interview the child, the proposed guardian, and review the background and history of the proposed guardian. A confidential report will be prepared for the court to consider in evaluating whether to appoint the proposed guardian to care for the minor.
Forms packets can be purchased from the court clerks office which contain all the necessary forms to file a petition for guardianship. You can also download the Guardianship Form Packet from our Forms Packet page under the Probate section. The forms packet includes a guardianship questionnaire, authorizations for release of confidential information, a petition form, an order form, letters of guardianship, a declaration under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, a notice of hearing, a consent form and forms for proof of service. The Ventura Courts Self-help Legal Access Center can assist you in completing the forms, but you will need to type them yourself. Plan on spending at least one and a half to two hours completing the forms, since they are fairly extensive. Typewriters are available in the courts law library.
If the need for appointment of a guardian is urgent, and the hearing cannot wait the fifteen days required for a noticed hearing, the petition can be brought on an ex parte basis, but the petitioner will have to demonstrate to the court that a true emergency exists.
The natural parents of the minor need to be notified of the initial hearing on the petition for appointment of a temporary guardian, and all relatives in the second degree need to be notified of the hearing on the appointment of a general guardian. These relatives include grandparents, aunts and uncles and adult siblings of the minor. Notice must be given by someone other than the petitioner or proposed guardian. It must be a disinterested person, over the age of 18.If the initial hearing is on an ex parte, or emergency basis, notice can be given to the natural parents by telephone, and the declaration form re: ex parte notice must be completed and filed with the court.
Removal or Resignation of Guardian
If a guardian wishes to be removed or resign, but the guardianship is to continue with another guardian in place, the new proposed guardian needs to be approved by the court and appointed on a temporary basis, before the general guardianship will change. A petition to resign may be heard at the same time as the hearing on appointment of the general guardian.
Termination of Guardian
A guardianship may be terminated if the court finds it is in the best interests of the minor. The natural parent or parents may petition for termination of the guardianship, and the court will make a decision based on the investigation report prepared by the court’s investigator. Forms for petitioning for termination of a guardianship are available in the court Clerk’s office.
For more information on Guardianship, visit the California Courts Self-Help Center.