Establishing a Guardianship is complicated. The basic steps are listed below.
You may need help with this process. You can contact the Self-Help Center or ask a lawyer to help you.
- Make sure you have all the forms you need. (See the Probate forms page on this website.)
- Fill out your forms completely. If you need help, go to the Self-Help Center Center.
- Make one original and two copies of your forms and take them to the Probate Clerk’s Office at:
Downtown Superior Court in San Jose (click for DTS address, directions, and hours).
The clerk will keep your original forms and give you back one ‘Filed’ copy.
- Give notice of the hearing to certain people and agencies. Read How to give “notice”, below.
- There will be an investigation before the hearing.
- Bring your proposed Order Appointing Guardian of the Child (Form GC-240 ) and Letters of Guardianship (Form GC-250 ) to the Probate Clerk’s Office at least four days before your hearing.
- Get ready for your hearing. Bring:
- Copies of signed Proof of Service of Notice(s)
- An interpreter, if you do not speak English well
How to Give Notice
The law says you must “give notice” to certain people, relatives and agencies. This means someone — not you — must “serve” (give) copies of your Court forms either personally or by mail to those people and agencies so they will know you are asking to be the guardian of the child.
You must do this even if you think they don’t care or may disagree with you.
There are rules for giving notice. You must follow them carefully. Otherwise, you may have to go back to Court.
To read about the law on giving notice, read Probate Code Sections 1511 and 1516 , and Section 1542 .
There are two kinds of notice: personal and by mail.
Personal notice means the server personally hands the papers to someone.
You must give personal notice to:
- The parents (or the person(s) with legal custody of the child now)
- The child you want to be guardian to, if the child is 12 or over
Someone — not you — must personally serve (give) a copy of the Notice of Hearing and Petition for Appointment of Guardian and all other forms you filled out at least 15 days before the Court hearing.
The person who serves the forms must fill out and sign the Proof of Service (see sample form ), then give it to you. Then, file it with the clerk at:
Probate Clerk’s Office
191 North First Street, Room 107
San Jose 95113
You can use mail to give notice to:
- The child’s brothers and sisters, if they are 12 or older
- Half-brothers and half-sisters (from either parent), if they are 12 or older
- The child’s grandparents (parents of the child’s mother and parents of the child’s father)
- Program Director, Emergency Response Services,
Santa Clara County Social Services Agency
333 W. Julian Street, 2nd Floor
San Jose, CA 94110
If you are not related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption, you must also mail notice to:
The California Department of Social Services
Director of Social Services
744 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Someone — not you — must serve (mail) a copy of the Notice of Hearing and Petition for Appointment of Guardian and all other forms you filled out at least 15 days before the Court hearing.
The server must fill out and sign the Proof of Service by Mail on the back of the Notice of Hearing form, then give it back to you. File it at:
Probate Clerk’s Office,
191 North First Street, Room 107
San Jose, 95113
Who can serve?
Ask someone you know who is 18 or over or ask a process server. A “Process Server” is a business you pay to deliver Court forms. Look in the Yellow Pages, under “Process Serving.”
If you cannot give notice to the father because he is "unknown," attach a copy of the child's birth certificate to the Petition for Appointment. Mark it as an exhibit.
More Self-Help pages about Guardianship