Probate guardianships are filed when a parent is unavailable to participate in daily decision-making for their child, and there is a family member or a friend willing to assume this responsibility.
General Guardianship of the Person
If you are concerned about the immediate safety and welfare of a child, please contact Child Protective Services at (559) 600-6400.
Guardianships can be for the person and/or estate, depending upon the circumstances. A guardianship of the person is filed to appoint someone to care for a minor, and to make the day-to-day decisions that a parent would otherwise make. Once appointed by the court, the guardian assumes legal responsibility for the child.
Once the Petition for Appointment of Guardian has been filed, the clerk will set the matter for hearing. The hearing will generally be set 60 to 75 days from the date of filing. Once the hearing is set, a Court Investigator will be appointed to the case. The assigned Court Investigator will complete a background investigation on each proposed guardian, any adult living in the home where the minor will reside and for any person listed as a potential caregiver for the child.
General Guardianship of the Estate
A guardianship of the estate allows the guardian to make financial decisions for a child, and is often filed when a minor is to receive a large monetary gift or inheritance. Both parents and non-parents can become guardians of the estate for children. In guardianships of the estate the court generally requires the funds to be placed into a blocked account, with all expenditures allowed only on prior court approval.
If the filing party feels there is a present emergency regarding a minor’s wellbeing, a petition to appoint a temporary guardian can be filed. A petition to appoint a temporary guardian can be filed at the same time or after the petition for the appointment of a general guardian. A petition for appointment of a temporary guardian is submitted to the Judge on an ex parte basis, and the petitioner will have no opportunity to explain in person why the temporary guardianship is necessary. For this reason, it is recommended that a declaration in support of the temporary guardianship is included with detailed information about the present danger to the child, and that it includes copies of any existing police reports, CPS recommendations, etc.
Alternatives to Guardianship
Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit (FC § 6550, et seq.): Under Family Code Section 6550, any relative adult caregiver in whose home a minor resides may use this affidavit to enroll a minor in school and to authorize school-related medical care. If the minor is related to the person they are residing with as defined in Family Code section 6550(i)(2), the caregiver may authorize medical treatment to the same extent as a guardian, and without the consent of a parent. The court has no involvement in this process. Fresno County Court has the Caregiver's Affidavit form available at the Probate Clerk's filing counter or online by clicking here.
Hardcopy forms may be purchased at the Probate Clerk’s Office in the B.F. Sisk Courthouse located at 1130 “O” Street, 3rd Floor, Room 300 for a fee or online at no cost. Click here to access guardianship forms at no cost.
Fees for Forms (available for purchase from the Probate Clerk’s Office):
- General Guardianship Packet (one petitioner, one minor): $7.30
- Additional Minor: $0.50
- Additional Petitioner: $0.90
- Temporary Guardianship Packet (can be used for multiple petitioners/minors): $1.30
The Probate Division offers several different ways to assist with the filing of a guardianship petition:
- Guide and File is an online interview process that inputs your information into the required guardianship forms. To file for guardianship using the Court’s automated interview process, click here.
- The Probate Clerk's filing counter has a self-help packet that instructs the user on how to fill out the forms necessary to petition for guardianship. Click here to access the self-help packet online.
- A Guardianship Basics Workshop is usually offered twice a month by Central California Legal Services in partnership with the Superior Court and the Public Law Library. The workshop explains the basic rules and steps to apply for guardianship. * Please note- the in-person workshop is suspended at this time due to Covid Restrictions. Contact Central California Legal Services at (800) 675-8001 for more information and guardianship assistance eligibility.
Other Types of Cases Involving Children
Information about other types of cases between parents that may concern children, such as child custody and support can be found in the Family Law section of the website.
Information specific to children under 18 years of age can be found in the Juvenile section of the website.