Guardianship is a legal arrangement where someone is granted legal authority and responsibility to care for and make decisions on behalf of another person, in many cases, a child. And while a guardianship is often an arrangement put in place to help protect the rights and interests of the child, there may come a time when it might be appropriate to terminate the legal guardianship arrangement.
Terminating a guardianship can range from automatic to complicated, depending on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your case. However, the first step is knowing how to get started.
If you are looking to terminate a guardianship in California but aren’t sure where to begin, the attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP are here to help. Use our guide below to learn more about how to terminate a guardianship in California, when you might want to do so, what steps to take, and how an attorney can help. Contact us today to speak to a knowledgeable California family law attorney.
When You Might Want to Terminate Guardianship in California
There are many reasons someone might seek guardianship of a minor child. However, there are just as many reasons why someone might later request the guardianship’s termination. Below are some situations in which a party might want to terminate a guardianship in California.
- A parent has addressed certain life circumstances that led to the need for guardianship and is now able to provide a safe and stable environment for their child;
- The health of the guardian with whom the child currently resides has significantly deteriorated to the point where they are unable to adequately care for and make decisions on behalf of the child;
- A parent has significantly improved their financial situation, allowing them to adequately provide for the needs of their child;
- A parent has completed certain court-ordered programs or rehabilitation that would allow their parental rights to be restored; or
- The child, depending on their age, maturity, and other factors, has expressed a strong desire to return to their parent’s custody or that of another party.
That said, this is not an exhaustive list. So if you are seeking to terminate a guardianship for other reasons but aren’t sure whether doing so makes sense for your situation, speak with one of our attorneys today.
Options for Terminating a Guardianship in California
How hard it will be to terminate a guardianship will depend on whether the termination will happen automatically or whether you will have to request it from the court. Here are a few things to keep in mind for both avenues of termination.
Automatic Termination of Guardianship
Under California Probate Code § 1600, the guardianship of a minor child, sometimes referred to as a ward, will terminate automatically if any of the following occur:
- The ward reaching the age of 18 (or the age of 21 in situations where the guardianship was to extend to the age of 21);
- The death of the ward;
- The adoption of the ward; or
- The emancipation of the ward.
In these cases, you will not have to seek court intervention to terminate the guardianship. Thus, doing so is very simple.
Termination of Guardianship by Court Order
Probably not surprisingly, when the termination is not automatic, matters can become more difficult.
When termination does not happen automatically, certain parties may be able to ask the court to enter an order terminating the guardianship. The parties who can petition the court to do so include:
- The guardian;
- A parent;
- The minor ward; or
- In the case of an Indian child custody proceeding, the ward’s tribe or an Indian custodian.
However, the decision of whether to terminate the guardianship will ultimately be up to the judge.
Factors to Consider and Obstacles When Ending Guardianship in California
Again, the decision rests with the judge hearing the case, which can lead to some challenges in terminating a guardianship in California. Specifically, the court will grant the termination only if it determines that the guardianship is no longer necessary and termination would be in the best interest of the ward. In making this determination, the court might consider factors such as the following:
- Wishes of the child, depending on their age and maturity level;
- Medical, educational, and other needs of the child;
- Ability of the current guardian to meet the child’s needs;
- Relationship between the child, their guardian, and any other relationships they have developed while being cared for by the guardian;
- Consent of the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) to the requested guardianship termination, if applicable; and
- Existence of alternate arrangements if the judge grants the termination.
Whether or not a court will grant a guardianship termination will vary from case to case based on the particular facts involved. That said, the most important thing to keep in mind when requesting termination of a guardianship in California is that you must be able to show the court that doing so would be in the best interest of the child.
How to Seek Termination of a Guardianship by Court Order in California
Below are the primary steps involved in requesting termination of a guardianship by court order in California:
- Complete a Form GC-255, Petition for Termination of Guardianship, and file it with the court;
- Notify the child’s guardian and family members involved in the guardianship action of your request to terminate guardianship by delivering copies of the petition that you filed with the court;
- Cooperate with any court-appointed investigator who will set up a home study, write a report, and make recommendations regarding the guardianship of the child; and
- Appear at the hearing, where you can explain to the court why you think it should grant your request.
Speak with a Guardianship Attorney at Pakpour Banks LLP Today
Family law matters, especially those involving questions of guardianship, can be complicated and emotionally draining. However, you don’t have to go through this process on your own.
If you have questions about terminating a guardianship in California, the family law attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP are here to help. With years of experience helping families during some of the most difficult times in their lives, we are confident that we have the knowledge, tools, and resources necessary to help you, too.
Contact our team today to request a case evaluation and learn more about how Pakpour Banks LLP can fight for you.