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  1. #1

    Default How to Get Guardianship of a Sibling in High School

    My question involves a person located in the state of: CA

    Situation is this: my friend is 23, employed full time with steady income and has an apartment of her own. Her younger sister is 14 and a sophomore in high school. Their mother recently passed away in December of last year after a lengthy battle with cancer during which time their father's mental health deteriorated and his dependence on alcohol increased. Their father has been having more frequent outbursts, drinks heavily, and uses threats and emotional abuse against both daughters. He also does not perform many of the basic duties of a parent such as getting the younger sister to school or to the doctor, my friend does these things for her sister.

    My friend wants to take custody of her sister because she feels she is at risk living alone with their father and their fathers negligenct behaviors are impacting her sisters life in a negative way. Does she have any legal standing to do this? Would something like a guardianship authorization be the best option for now? And if she does get the guardianship authorization would it help her case if she were to file for sole legal guardianship in the future?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Will the father agree to allow this?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Why can't the sister get herself off to school ? She should be getting herself up, breakfast, dressed, etc without help. She can take a school bus, regular bus or walk to school.

    Does the child have to frequently see her doctor? Is she disabled?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    You should encourage the younger sister to speak with he school counselor/social worker. (S)he will have access to resources to assist your friend's family. It is understandable that a family having endured the protracted illness and death of a parent/spouse will have issues that need to be addressed by professional help.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    My friend wants to take custody of her sister because she feels she is at risk living alone with their father and their fathers negligenct behaviors are impacting her sisters life in a negative way.
    When your friend spoke with her father about the possibility of her sister coming to live with her, how did the father respond?

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    Does she have any legal standing to do this?
    I'm guessing you're not familiar with "standing" as a legal concept, so I'm not really sure what you're asking here. Obviously, if your friend hasn't already done so, the first thing to do is to discuss the matter with her father. If that isn't productive, your friend can certainly file a petition seeking a guardianship. We obviously cannot predict how that might turn out.

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    Would something like a guardianship authorization be the best option for now?
    No one here has any idea what might be best for three persons we don't know. At a minimum, your friend should seek a consultation with one or more attorneys who handle guardianship matters.

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    And if she does get the guardianship authorization would it help her case if she were to file for sole legal guardianship in the future?
    Not really sure what you're asking. Also, you seem to be drawing a distinction between "guardianship" and "guardianship authorization." What exactly do you mean by that?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Thanks for all the replies! Let me start from the top.

    In regards to getting herself to school, she lives in rural northern CA and there is no bus that comes within two miles of their house. So she frequently has to stay with friends that live closer, walk or get a ride from the neighbors to the bus stop, or stay with her sister. Since the bus ride takes an hour and a half to ride to school and the walk is two miles, it's not realistic for her to walk every single day at 5 am to the bus stop especially once it starts to get colder and her dad rarely takes her to school or the bus stop. There are also mountain lions and bears in the area and no shoulder or sidewalk to walk on so it's a little bit risky.

    Does the child have to frequently see a doctor? No, however, the father leaves frequently for weeks at a time and she stays with her sister. They have run into issues where the younger sister did need to see a doctor and her sister could not take her because she does not have guardianship rights and her only guardian was out of the country.

    Will the father agree? He is unstable following the death of his wife and I think that no matter how much he knows it would be the right thing for his daughter to not live under his care, he's not just going to agree to it because he doesn't want to lose her too. My friend has tried to discuss this with her father but it's always turned into a big fight where he projects his own behaviors and actions onto her. For example he will tell her she's never around when actually he is the one who is frequently gone and not caring for the younger sister. It seems like he doesn't have any valid concerns or issues with her taking guardianship beyond having to give up control.

    My friend is going to meet with a family law attorney soon to discuss her options. As far as the "guardian authorization" it was just something I saw online that looks like this: http://www.scscourt.org/forms_and_fi...horization.pdf
    It's a document that would give my friend guardianship rights without taking the rights away from her father and would allow her to make decisions regarding medical and educational issues for her sister when her father is not available. I am not someone with legal experience or knowledge so I am sorry if some of my questions do not make sense.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Will the father agree? He is unstable following the death of his wife and I think that no matter how much he knows it would be the right thing for his daughter to not live under his care, he's not just going to agree to it because he doesn't want to lose her too. My friend has tried to discuss this with her father but it's always turned into a big fight where he projects his own behaviors and actions onto her. For example he will tell her she's never around when actually he is the one who is frequently gone and not caring for the younger sister. It seems like he doesn't have any valid concerns or issues with her taking guardianship beyond having to give up control.
    Does the father understand that he can agree to temporary guardianship or guardianship for specific purposes without giving up anything? In fact, it doesn't even have to be called guardianship. He can just authorize (in writing) your friend to take care of her sister and do this that and the other thing.

    My friend is going to meet with a family law attorney soon to discuss her options.
    I hope she understands that the bar for parenthood is set rather low and that seeking guardianship through the courts is a rather expensive proposition. I guess she'll find that out soon enough.

    As far as the "guardian authorization" it was just something I saw online that looks like this: http://www.scscourt.org/forms_and_fi...horization.pdf
    Yes, that form will do it, if the father goes along with it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    she lives in rural northern CA
    The "Guardianship Authorization" form to which you provided a link came from the Santa Clara County Superior Court's website, and Santa Clara County is hardly rural and barely on the north side of the middle of California. Does she live in Santa Clara County? All that said, the response that speculated about the availability of buses and the feasibility of walking was obviously silly and based on ignorance.

    Quote Quoting legalbeagles
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    As far as the "guardian authorization" it was just something I saw online that looks like this: http://www.scscourt.org/forms_and_fi...horization.pdf
    It's a document that would give my friend guardianship rights without taking the rights away from her father and would allow her to make decisions regarding medical and educational issues for her sister when her father is not available.
    I disagree with your interpretation of this form as something that would not "tak[e] the rights away from her father." This form appears to be a form by which a child's parent consents to a proposed guardianship. A guardianship is something that can only be created by a court order. It cannot simply be given by a parent without involvement of a court. Note also that the statement in one of the other responses to the effect that a guardianship can consented to by a parent "without giving up anything" is not correct. However, your friend's father could, if he wants, give your friend a power of attorney that should suffice for the purpose of consenting to medical treatment and making educational decisions.

    In any event, consulting with a local attorney is the best thing for your friend to do.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    If she could get her father to sign a POA (which would take nothing away from him) then she would at least be able to get the child medical care in her father's absence. That would at least be a first good step.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Guardianship of Younger Sibling

    The sample form was from Santa Clara County but they don't live there. As far as I know, that document could be used in another CA county and only the Notary page would need to change. They live in El Dorado County.

    Sounds like power of attorney would probably be the best option, thanks!

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