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What should I do if I can't care for my child in California?

There are times when a Riverside parent may feel as if they're unable to adequately raise their child, whether it's for health, financial or other reasons. In such cases, they may wish to hand over custody to a relative temporarily while they get well or back on their feet. It's ideal if a parent voluntarily does this. A California guardianship action can be initiated without their consent though.

A parent can give their consent for someone else to take care of their child without going to court. A mom or dad will need to draft a letter acknowledging that they've turned over custody of their child to their relative.

The parent will need to clearly state that they are allowing their family members to make any medical or education decisions on their behalf as long as that relative retains custody of the child. They should have such a statement notarized for it to be upheld in a court of law.

Things may be a bit more involved if you, as a relative, already retain custody of the minor. This is especially the case if you are unable to locate their parents to sign an agreement for you.

In such a situation, California law allows you as the child's relative to complete a Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit and have it notarized. Once this form is properly executed, you'll be able to take on any of the responsibilities that any other guardian would be able to do. This means that you can get the child medical care and enroll them in school.

Non-relatives of a child can apply for guardianship of a child by completing this same form. While that person will be allowed to make education-related decisions for the child by doing so, they will be limited on the medical ones that they can make. A guardian will only be able to make school-related health decisions such as whether to allow the child to undergo a physical or to get immunized.

Guardians in Riverside should know that their appointment to this role ends once the child ceases to live with them. Parents can additionally choose to terminate a standing guardianship agreement at any time.

If you want to become the legal guardian of a young relative already in your custody, then you may want to reach out to an adoption and guardianship attorney to help walk you through the process.

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