Caregivers or Guardianship: Choosing The Best Option For A Child

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Community Legal Aid

As kids grow up, parents can use extra help caring for them.  This help can come from family members, friends, or even professionals.  Deciding who to ask and how much help to give them is a big decision.

The good news is there are many options!  Some people can help for a short time or until the child becomes an adult.  Some people can help with just a few things, while others can help with everything.  The table below shows the different care types.

Care TypesCaregiverTemporary AgentGuardian
DetailsA caregiver supports the parent in caring for a child. They can only make decisions about medical care or schooling. A parent can limit the power of the caregiver.Temporary agents are like caregivers. They can act as the parent in every way.  They can not consent to adoption. A parent can limit the power of the agent.A guardian is someone who assumes the role of a parent.  A guardianship ends when the child turns 18 or a court ends the guardianship.
DurationUp to 2 years (renewable)60 days (renewable)Until child turns 18 years old
CostFreeFreeProcess Server fees may apply.
Handle Minor Money/AssetsNo Yes Yes
School & Medical YesYes Yes
Court Required?NoNoYes
Time to CompleteWhen signed When signed 

Temporary Guardianship: 10 days to 3 months. 

Permanent Guardianship: Up to a year.

Decision- making:Shared between the parent and the caregiver.Only on topics agreed to by the parent.Makes all decisions on behalf of the child.  
Power to make legal decisions:Generally noneLimited to what’s agreed to by parentAny granted by the court
Proof of caregiver status:Signed documents. Some may ask for more verification.Signed documents. Some may ask for more verification.Certified copies of court order may be required.
Must live with the childYesNoYes


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