Anyone can become a guardian

When a child is born, his or her parents are naturally the initial guardians. This continues whether the parents stay married or not, and it’s also true if they have the child out of wedlock. This responsibility is passed along to them and remains theirs in most cases, with the exception of adoptions and similar changes.

However, there are also cases where other people may need to ask the court if they can become the guardians for children who have none. Under the law in British Columbia, anyone at all is allowed to do this. Often, those who ask are family members, such as aunts, uncles and grandparents. In other cases, though, people who are not even related to the child in any way can become the legal guardians.

For instance, this could happen in a case in which a couple does not have close relatives or does not feel their child would be safe and happy with those relatives. They could ask their closest friends to take care of the children if anything happens to them. If the couple then passes away in a car accident or by some other means, those friends can petition for guardianship despite not being related to the child.

The reason to do this is that guardianship can then give them some rights normally reserved for parents. They can make choices on the child’s behalf, take legal action for the child while he or she is a minor, visit the child in the hospital and many other things. It makes it possible for these family friends to actually be stand-ins for parents who are gone.

If you are a guardian, make sure you know exactly what legal rights and responsibilities you have.

Source: Legal Services Society British Columbia, “How to Become a Child’s Guardian,” accessed June 10, 2015

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