California Family Law Attorney
When parents are unable to take care of children because of illness, addiction, abuse, incarceration, deportation or they are incarcerated, the care of minor children is often taken over by a loving relative or other caring individual. When that happens, the court will award legal custody of the child to a guardian. Like a parent, the guardian is liable for the child’s welfare and well-being, including housing, education, and medical care. In short, everything the parent would be morally and legally responsible for becomes the responsibility of the guardian.
If you are considering assuming legal child guardianship, you will have many questions and concerns. Please call Fleming Family Law in Anaheim at 714-855-1043, toll free at 866-698-3123 or send an e-mail to discuss your needs and schedule a free consultation with experienced family law attorney Richard Fleming.
Burden of Proof
Removing children from the custody of their parents is not something the California courts take lightly. Even when child guardianship is being sought by close relatives who have demonstrated their love for the child (commonly grandparents, aunts or uncles), they must show by clear and convincing evidence that the child will suffer an immediate detriment in order to be awarded guardianship. Disapproval of the way a parent is raising a child is not an adequate reason for the court system to remove a child from the custody of their parents.
Custody Does Not Necessarily Terminate Parents’ Rights
It is also important to note that custody is not necessarily a permanent situation. Parental rights are not terminated, and parents can petition to have custody returned to them when the situation changes.
While there are many real justifications to have children removed from the custody of their parents, and we counsel those seeking custody to look at possible alternatives, such as a caregiver’s affidavit, which may be preferable and, ultimately, better for the children.