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A judge may appoint the Court Investigator to investigate the reasons for the guardianship

Probate Court Investigation Office

Mendocino County Courthouse
100 North State Street, Room 212
Ukiah, CA   95482
Phone: (707)463-4484, option 2

Please call first if you need to see the investigator.

What is Probate Guardianship?

Guardianship is a court process by which a person other than a parent is given custody of a child or authority over a child’s property.  Appointment as guardian requires the filing of a petition for probate guardianship and approval by the court.  If the court establishes a probate guardianship, the guardianship may be:

  • A guardianship of the person (custody)
  • A guardianship of the child's "estate" (property
  • Or both.

A probate guardianship of the person may be appointed so that a guardian can take care of the physical, emotional, and educational needs of a child. A probate guardian of estate may be established when a child has assets, will inherit assets, or is the beneficiary of a deceased parent's insurance policy. Most guardianships are of person only. In some cases, there is a guardianship of both person and estate.

How does the Court decide whether or not to grant Guardianship of a child?

When an individual requests guardianship of a person or estate, the Court may order that an investigation be completed before it makes its decision.  The Judge may appoint the Court Investigator to investigate the reasons for the guardianship and determine if the potential guardians are qualified to fulfill this responsibility.  The Court investigator goes to the home of the child, determines if the residence meets the needs of the child and finds out if anyone objects to the proposed guardianship.  The Investigator interviews everyone involved in the child’s life, including the parents if they are available.  The Investigator also checks to see if the guardian or any other adults in the household has a criminal background or has been involved in child abuse or neglect.  After the interviews and background checks are completed, the Investigator prepares and submits a report to the court and the parties involved in the case.  The report assesses the situation and makes recommendations to the judge regarding the case.  A hearing is held where the Judge may decide to appoint a guardian for the child, even if the parents are opposed to the guardianship.  The potential guardian(s) must come to this hearing.  The parents may come to this hearing as well. 

Who is the Court Investigator?

The Court Investigator is a trained, skilled, and experienced professional who is familiar with community resources and knowledgeable in the laws governing the Probate Guardianships. 

What do these services cost?

There is an initial filing fee for the petition for Probate Guardianship.  In addition, the law authorizes the court to recover the costs associated with the Guardianship Investigation.  The fee per investigation is $500.  Potential guardians may request the filing fee and investigation fee be waived or deferred based on financial hardship.

How long do these services take?

The length of time it takes to complete each investigation may vary depending on the complexity of the issues, the proximity of the parties, and people's schedules.  However, once a Guardianship Investigation begins it is likely to be completed within 4 weeks. 

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