Caregiver Rights for Non-Biological Children
Sometimes, a non-parent is charged with the care of a minor child. Without a court order, that non-parent has no legal rights to the child. In the situation where the parent is negligent or abusive to the child, it is important the the caregiver obtains protection for the child. This can be done by filing for a guardianship or adoption.
Guardianships are necessary when neither parent is able to care for a child and a non-parent must step in to care for the child. This occurs when unfortunate circumstances are present, such as:
- Death of one or both parents
- Abandonment by one or both parents
- Mental illness of one or both parents
- Abusive behavior towards the children by one or both parents
- Homelessness of the parents
- Any circumstances that render the parents unfit
- Any circumstances that render the parents unable to care for the child
How Guardianships Are Established
Guardianships require the filing of documents in court. Once the documents have been filed, the court must investigate the child’s circumstances. It is their job to listen to the parents’ side of the story and to determine whether the guardian is fit is fit to care for the child. The court will then schedule a hearing so that the parents and the guardians can participate in the court proceedings. If the court finds that a guardianship is necessary, it will make appropriate orders. These orders allow the child to live with the guardian and give the guardian authority to care for the child. A guardian is given responsibility for raising the child. If you are in need of establishing a guardianship in the Corona, Eastvale, Chino or Riverside area, please call our office to get started with the process.
Responsibilities of a Guardian
Once a guardianship is established, the guardians are charged with certain duties. These duties are to love the child, provide the child with a suitable home, and ensure the child is safe. Those duties include:
- To provide the child with love and affection
- To ensure the child has a safe home
- To provide the child with medical care
- To provide the child with necessities of life
- To provide moral direction for the child
- To ensure the child is able to safely see his/her parents, if possible
- To ensure the child receives a proper education
- To protect the health, welfare and safety of the child.
If you are desiring to adopt a child and make that child your own, a lawsuit must be filed. An adoption is the process of creating a parent-child relationship between a non-parent and a child. Adopting a child is a huge milestone in life. Because the adoption process is complex, you will need legal help to navigate the system for you.
Frequently, one parent remarries and asks their new spouse to adopt their child of a different relationship. Typically, this is done because the biological parent has been out of the child’s life for some time. This can be due to abandonment, criminal behavior, abuse or neglect. These types of adoptions are called “step-parent” adoptions. If your spouse is desiring to adopt your biological child, our experienced attorneys can help. We routinely help families like you in Riverside County. Please call our office to get started.
Independent adoptions are those where two non-biological parents adopt the child. This is frequently done when both biological parents are absent due to death, neglect, abuse, incarceration or abandonment. In those situations, the biological parents’ rights are terminated and two new people step into the permanent role of parents.
The Adoption Process
In California, the adoption process starts with the filing of a lawsuit. Frequently, one or both biological parent must have his or her rights terminated first. After the lawsuit if filed, the court conducts an investigation to determine why an adoption is necessary and if the parent desiring to adopt is fit to do so. After the investigate is complete, the court has a hearing to determine whether the adoption should proceed. If the court determines adoption is appropriate, a formal adoption proceeding is scheduled. The adoption process usually requires multiple hearings and may take many months to complete. If you are desiring to adopt a child, call our office in Corona, California for legal help.