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pros and cons

In this section, you can find out answers to the following questions:

  1. Is guardianship always necessary?
  2. Can I still act as the child’s caretaker without being the legal guardian?
  3. Will the Guardianship Authorization, Affidavit of Caregiver or a notarized letter from the parents allow me to meet all the child’s needs?

For more information on guardianships, see more Self-Help pages about Guardianship.


  1. Is guardianship always necessary?


  2. No. In fact many adults who have physical custody of a child avoid becoming a legal guardian because:

    • The caretaker believes the child's parents will not consent to a legal Guardianship.
    • Filing for a Guardianship would cause more problems among family members.
    • The caretaker doesn't want the Court to monitor his or her personal life.
    • The caretaker will only act as guardian for a short period of time and the parents are willing to sign a form called a Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit .

  3. Can I still act as the child’s caretaker without being the legal guardian?

    Yes. In California, parents can sign a Guardianship Authorization  Affidavit. This form gives a relative permission to make decisions about the child’s education and medical care, or a non-relative permission to make decisions about education and school-related medical care. The form says the child’s parents give you informal "custody" of the child.

    If you are a non-relative, it’s also a good idea to get a medical release from the parents. This will allow you to make medical decisions beyond school-related health care needs

    For more information, read Family Code section 6550 .

    You can get a copy of this form from a legal forms book at a bookstore or stationery store, from a lawyer, or from the Self-Help Center.

  4. Will the Guardianship Authorization, Affidavit of Caregiver or a notarized letter from the parents allow me to meet all the child’s needs?

    Maybe not. Here’s why:

    • Not all schools or medical facilities accept these forms.
    • The parents can cancel the forms at any time.
    • If the parents changed their minds and wanted the child back, it might not be safe for the child.
    • It may be hard for you to get medical insurance for the child unless you are the legal guardian.

    If you think you need to set up a legal guardianship for the child, read the Becoming a Guardian page on this website.

More Self-Help pages about Guardianship

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara