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Guardianships: A potential solution to the repercussions social distancing is having on the safety of minor children.

Social distancing is a phrase that we have all become familiar with in the last few months. More specifically, in 2020, social distancing has been ordered to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and has required millions around the world to stay inside their homes.

As the weeks go by, we are discovering that social distancing, although effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, has created other issues that we could not have imagined, such as the indefinite closures of schools around the world and the temporary closure of courts, including the San Diego Superior Court.

In early March 2020, many parents in San Diego County began getting emails from their children’s school informing them that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, schools would be closed indefinitely.

For parents who are in this situation the question has been “what will I do with my child while schools are closed?” For Child Welfare Services and people who are aware that a child’s safety may be at risk at home, the concern is different: “How will we know that children are safe during this stay in place order?”

The concern is warranted. Schools are where many issues of child abuse and domestic violence are brought to light, as teachers and school personnel are mandatory reporters. If they suspect children are being neglected or abused, they are obligated to report it to Child Welfare Services.

If you are one of those who is concerned for the safety of a child in their home, one solution to this concern may be filing a Petitions for Temporary Guardianships of a person, as despite courts recent closure due to COVID-19, the San Diego Superior Court has made an exception for Guardianship requests where a minor’s safety is at risk.

A Petition for Temporary Guardianship of a person requests for the Court to appoint a temporary legal guardian of a minor. In many instances these petitions are filed when a minor’s home is inhabitable or violent, where a parent or parents have substance abuse issues, are homeless, or have abandoned a child.

Once granted, a temporary guardianship order allows the appointed guardian to act as the temporary legal guardian of the child, allowing them to do things such as temporarily care for the child in the guardian’s home, take them to the doctor, and apply for benefits on behalf of the child if necessary.

During a time where many services are being delayed, the guardianship process is fortunately not one of those things. As we learned from one of our own guardianship filing last week, emergency temporary guardianship hearings are being granted as fast as 72 hours of filing. Our office was able to coordinate for our clients to attend the hearing without having to leave their home by requesting a telephonic appearance.

If you are concerned for the safety of a child and wish to file a Petition for Temporary Guardianship, please know that we can help you achieve this, quickly and without you having to leave your home.

By: Gisela Acevedo, Attorney at Contreras Law Firm

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