Guardianship Laws in California on How to Relocate a Minor to Another State

By Joe Stone

A California guardianship can involve the court appointing an adult to care for a minor child when the child's parents are deceased or unable to fulfill their parental obligations. Although the guardian generally carries out his duties to care for the minor as a parent would, California law requires the guardian to obtain court approval before taking certain action regarding the minor. Relocating to another state with the minor is one action that requires prior court approval.

Petitioning the Court for Relocation

California Probate Code section 2352(c) states that a guardian must obtain court approval before relocating a minor from his California residence to another state. The Judicial Council of California provides three forms that the guardian must use when requesting such approval: Petition to Fix Residence Outside of the State of California -- Form GC-085, Notice of Hearing -- Guardianship or Conservatorship -- Form GC-020, and Order Fixing Residence Outside of the State of California -- Form GC-090. All these forms are available for downloading from the Judicial Council website called California Courts. The guardian must complete the forms and file them with the court.

Court Process

After filing the petition, notice of hearing and order with the court, the guardian must serve a copy of these documents on the minor if he is 12 years of age or older, the minor's father, mother and siblings over the age of 12, the minor's grandparents if known; and any other interested person who filed a request for special notice in the guardianship case. The forms must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date. The court will either grant or deny the petition at the time of the hearing.

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Objections to Relocation

Those persons given notice of the guardian's relocation petition, as well as any interested person, can object to the guardian's request to relocate the minor's residence out of state. Although there is no mandatory form required for the objection, the California Rules of Court requires the objection to be in writing. Any person filing written objections should have some interest in the minor, such as being a parent or other relative involved in the minor's life. Regardless of the guardian's reason for relocating out of state or any objections to relocation, the court will make an independent judgment regarding whether the relocation is in the minor's best interest.

Post-Relocation Requirements

If the court grants the guardian's petition and he intends to relocate out of state for a period of time longer than four months, California law requires the guardian to establish a new guardianship or its equivalent in the new state of residence. The court has the authority to shorten this period of time in its order approving the relocation. A guardian who does not establish the new guardianship is subject to being cited by the court to return to California and explain why it has not occurred. A guardian who ignores the court's citation may have an arrest warrant issued against him.

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