As difficult as it may be to come to terms with, a time might arise when a minor child might need someone else to take care of them. 


Navigating the legal system as it pertains to obtaining guardianship for a relative or non-relative can be a bit tricky.




Because the process can differ between relatives and non-relatives, posing even more questions and potential roadblocks. 


In California, there are specific rules governing the appointment of legal guardianship for relatives and non-relatives but knowing the simplest of steps is enough to get started on the path towards becoming a guardian

Who Can Be Appointed As A Legal Guardian?

Legal guardianship is a legal arrangement where an adult assumes the responsibility of caring for a minor or an incapacitated adult. 


Any adult, relative or non-relative, who is deemed capable of taking care of a child or an incapacitated adult can be appointed as a legal guardian. 


The person must complete the legal process and must have a judge’s approval before assuming the role of a legal guardian.

The Differences between Relative and Non-Relative Guardians?

Legal Guardianship for Relatives


When it comes to legal guardianship for relatives, family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or adult siblings are typically given preference over non-relatives. 


There are several reasons for this preference:


  • Relatives are often more familiar with the child or incapacitated adult’s living situation and the family dynamics.
  • Having a relative as a legal guardian can help maintain the family’s cultural and religious values. 
  • In some cases relatives may be able to take care of the child or adult without requiring a foster home placement.

Legal Guardianship for Non-Relatives


When legal guardianship is granted to non-relatives, the court must determine the suitability of the individual to act as a legal guardian. 


It will consider factors such as:


  • Relationship between the child or incapacitated adult and the individual seeking guardianship.
  • Individual’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs.
  • Individual’s mental and physical health as well as criminal history.


During this process, the court may also consider the birth parents’ wishes and the best interests of the child as well as appoint an attorney to represent the child in the proceedings.

What Are Some Requirements and Steps?

The process involves filing a petition with the court, providing evidence of your ability to care for the child or incapacitated adult, and getting additional documentation like medical records, fuel bills, and tax returns.


Moreover, the court may require you to undergo an investigation to determine if you’re fit to be a guardian.


One significant factor that must be considered before taking on guardianship is the associated legal costs. 


While the costs for legal guardianship may vary from case to case, relatives are often met with reduced legal costs in comparison to non-relatives because of the presumption of a pre-existing relationship between them and the individual.


At the end of the day, all decisions must be made with the child’s or incapacitated adult’s best interests in mind when determining legal guardianship, no matter if they are related or not. 


The ability to provide a loving and stable home, adequate care, and support should be the highest priority to ensure that the individual has the best chance for a fulfilling life.


Need assistance with legal guardianship? Contact our offices today!