What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a custody order giving someone other than the parent legal custody of a minor.

What are the differences between guardianship, conservatorship and adoption?

Guardianships are temporary; the custody rights end when the minor becomes an adult.
Conservatorships are not for minors. Conservatorships are for adults who need “significant care.”
Adoption is a permanent parent-child relationship.

What kind of guardianship is right for you?

There are two kinds of guardianships in California; guardianship of the person and/or guardianship of the estate.

Guardianship of the person requires the adult to be responsible for the child’s well-being.
Guardianship of a minor’s estate can be used if the minor has substantial assets, such as through an inheritance.

Reference: Brown, D., & Doskow, E. (2011). The guardianship book for California: How to become a child’s legal guardian. (8 ed., pp. 3-5). Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press.

Online resources:

The Superior Court of California Self-Help*

Website provides an overview of the guardianship process including links to forms.


The Superior Court of California, County of Riverside Self-Help

Website provides guardianship packets, Judicial Council and local forms, videos, brochures and charts. Also discusses the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) available for those that qualify

The US Department of Health and Human Services

Website provides links to reports, resources, and examples from other states.


Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services

Website provides information specifically for refugee families seeking a guardianship.

Print resources:

Title: Guardianship Book for California: How to Become a Child’s Legal Guardian (R) (I)
Publisher: Nolo Press
CallNo: REF KFC 134 .B76 2011
ISBN: 9781413313604
Description: This book provides a concise overview of the guardianship process in California.

Title: A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples (R) (I)                      
Publisher: Nolo Press
CallNo: REF KF 539 H4 2012
ISBN: 9781413316810
Description: This book provides blank forms that readers can use as templates. It covers gay rights, with a brief section on guardianship including foster parents, wills, and standby guardians.

Title: California Jurisprudence 3d, v.35A (R) (I) (T)
Publisher: Nolo Press
CallNo: KFC 65 C343 2013
Description: California Jurisprudence, also known as CalJur, is a legal encyclopedia. Volume 35A covers guardianship and conservatorship providing references to code sections and cases.

Title: California Guardianship Practice 2013 (R) (I)
Publisher: CEB
CallNo: CEB KFC134 C3 2013-
ISBN: 9780762619580
Description: This book contains templates of forms and citations to cases and is useful for those beginning or in the middle of a guardianship case.

Call Numbers are for use in RCLL. Initials specify which library the item can be located (R)-Riverside (I)-Indio (T)-Temecula

ISBN Numbers are for use outside of the library, such as for personal purchase.

Pertinent Codes:

Probate §1500; Family §7635

This guide is also available on our website

Please Note: The information presented in this research guide is intended to provide a foundation for legal research. For information pertaining to your case please consult with an attorney, court facilitator or specialist.


Rev. 02/29/2020