Alternatives to Guardianship

A guardianship is not always necessary.

If the parents agree to let you take care of their child, they are not dangerous to the child in any way, and want to avoid having to go to court:

  • They can sign a Power of Attorney for a Minor Child in front of a notary that gives you physical "custody" of the child and lets you make decisions about the child's education and medical care.
  • Make sure you have the child’s health insurance information. If you want to add the child to your health insurance, you will probably need a court-ordered guardianship of the person since most insurance companies will not cover a minor who is not the child of the insured without a court order.
  • The parents can cancel the Power of Attorney at any time.

If the child will remain in California, the person taking care of the child can complete and sign a Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit:

  • If the person taking care of the child is a relative of the child, this form lets him or her enroll the child in school. It also gives the relative the same rights as a guardian to get medical care, including mental health treatment, for the child. The back of the affidavit has a list of which relatives qualify under this law.
  • If the person taking care of the child is NOT a relative, this form still lets him or her enroll the child in school, but they are only authorized to make medical care decisions that are school related (like immunizations or physical exams required by the school for enrollment).
  • The Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit is not an official court form.
  • The parents do not have to sign the Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit but they can cancel the affidavit at any time.
  • If the child is no longer living with the caregiver, the affidavit is not valid. The caregiver must notify the school and health care provider if the child is no longer living with him or her.

Get a Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit and instructions.  Make sure you read Family Code sections 6550-6552 and Probate Code sections 2353 and 2356 to learn about the specific requirements under the law.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to meet all the child's needs with the Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit or a notarized letter from the parents:

  • Schools and medical facilities are required by law to accept the Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit, but it is possible you may come across a lot of resistance and may decide that it is easier to go to court and get a court order giving you legal guardianship. 
  • The parents can cancel these forms or their letter at any time and take the child, even if it is not safe for the child.
  • It may be hard for you to get medical insurance for the child unless you are the legal guardian.  Most insurance companies will not allow you to add the minor to your insurance unless you have a court order making you the guardian.

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