Who Is and How to Become a Legal Guardian of a Child
As we have previously discussed, guardianship in Alberta grants an individual certain rights and responsibilities towards a child. These rights include, among other items, the ability to decide where a child lives, who they live with, their education, their medical treatment and their cultural upbringing.
Given the importance guardianship has in a child’s development and life, it’s important to know who is a guardian of a child and who can become a guardian if they are not one already.
Under the Family Law Act, if someone is the parent of a child, they are automatically a guardian of that child so long as they have acknowledged they are a parent of the child and have shown an intent to be a guardian of the child within one year of them becoming aware of the pregnancy or birth of the child.
Someone who doesn’t meet that automatic criteria of a guardian or has previously lost guardianship of a child can still apply to the court to be appointed as a child’s guardian. To apply, a person must be a parent of the child or be an adult who has had care and control of the child for at least 6 months. The child must also live in Alberta.
Once an application is made, the court must decide if the person is a suitable guardian and is able and willing to take on the role of a guardian, while considering at all times what is in the best interests of the child. The court also requires the consent of all the existing guardians of the child and, if they are 12 or older, the child, but it has the option to dispense with the consent requirement if there are good and sufficient reasons to.
If you’re considering become a legal guardian of a child or minor, contact one of our Custody & Guardianship family lawyers for help.