The answer is yes and it is called a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit. As discussed below, there are limitations when a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit can be used, but when it can be used, then it eliminates the expensive process of filing a Petition for Appointment of a Guardian of the Person.
The parent of a minor child – child under the age of 18 – does not need to obtain court authority to make medical, educational and residential decisions for their minor child. In other words, a parent does not need to be appointed the guardian of the person for their own minor child. There are circumstances where a parent is unable to act or is unwilling to act and a party needs authority to make certain decisions for a minor child. This has come up in my practice multiples times where someone else is providing care for a minor child because a parent is deceased and the other is incarcerated or a parent’s work schedule makes it difficult to raise a child.
You do not need an attorney to draft a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit for you as it is available online from several sources. One online source is here – https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/caregiver.pdf – which is the California Court’s website. It is a fill-in form that can be printed, completed and signed. But before completing it, make sure that it is appropriate. Note that the Caregiver’s signature does not need to be notarized.
Only “Qualified Relatives” can execute a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit. The instructions to the form define Qualified Relatives as a spouse, parent, stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, first cousin, or any person denoted by the prefix “grand” or “great,” or the spouse of any of the persons specified in this definition, even after the marriage has been terminated by death or dissolution. The minor child also must be living with the Qualified Relative.
The Caregiver must also allege, under penalty of perjury, that they have discussed executing the document with the minor’s parents who do not object to the use of the Affidavit or that the parents cannot be located.
Personal information about the Caregiver, such as date of birth, address and identification information such as a driver’s license, are required to be provided on the Affidavit.
The Affidavit can be provided to the minor’s school and medical professionals. This will give the Caregiver the authority to enroll a minor and make education decisions. It also gives the Caregiver the authority to arrange and consent to medical services including dental services.
There are important limitations with the Affidavit. First, it is only valid for one year and must be executed again if it is still needed after one year. Second, it is limited to the circumstances of making medical and education decisions for the minor. Third, the parents of the minor either have to consent to the authorization or they must be unavailable.
There are circumstances where a guardian of the person may be a better option. I had a matter recently where the parent that had legal and physical custody of the minor unexpectedly died and the surviving parent was uncooperative. My client was a Qualified Relative, but the minor was not living with her and instead was living with a close family friend. The minor was close to turning 18 but needed someone with authority to enroll him in school. The Caregiver Authorization Affidavit was not available because the minor was not residing with the Qualified Relative and the Caregiver was not a Qualified Relative. The surviving parent was not stepping up and assisting the minor with his needs, so we filed for a guardianship of the person so the close family friend could have authority to enroll the minor in school and consent to medical care.
Another circumstance where a guardianship of the person is a better option than a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit is if the minor needs to qualify as a dependent to receive medical insurance. The Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit specifically states that the Affidavit does not confer dependency for health care coverage. Being appointed guardian of the person for a minor child does confer dependency so that health care coverage for the minor.
Lastly, a guardian of the person continues until a minor turns 18, is much more difficult to be terminated since the court has to order is terminated, and because it is order by the court, schools and medical professionals are more willing to accept the authority that comes with a guardianship of the person rather than relying on the Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit.