MLAW is wrong. There are a number of factors to consider in assessing the role and responsibilities of legal guardianship of a child. Here's a sample from Alberta Law Line:
What is a legal guardian?
1. Am I a child’s guardian? Alberta’s Family Law Act defines who is a guardian in many ways. Each person in a couple is a guardian if:
a.) They are married when the child is born;
b.) They marry after the child is born;
c.) Their marriage legally ends no more than 300 days BEFORE the child’s birth;
d.) If they were in an adult interdependent relationship (AIR) when the child was born or entered into an AIR after the child was born (Alberta’s Adult Interdependent Relationships Act sets out what must occur for an unmarried couple to be in an AIR.);
e.) The couple lived together for a 12-month stretch, during which time the child was born; or
f.) If the couple agree in writing that they both are the child’s guardians.
Also, if the child lives with one of its parents for a year, that parent is a guardian. It does not matter if the child lives with someone else afterward – that parent remains a guardian. In addition, a person may become a guardian if they are appointed as such, by will or deed, by a parent of a child who is a guardian.
2. What legal rights does a child’s guardian have? Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, a guardian has these major legal rights:
a.) to care for the child or have contact with the child; and
b.) to get information and be consulted so that you can carry out your POWERS and RESPONSIBILITIES regarding the child.
3. What can a child’s guardian do? Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, a guardian can have some or all of the following POWERS:
a.) To make day-to-day decisions affecting the child;
b.) To decide where and with whom the child is to live;
c.) To make decisions about where the child goes to school and about the child’s culture and religion; and
d.) To consent to the child’s health treatments.
4. What are the responsibilities of a child’s guardian? Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, a guardian has these responsibilities:
a.) To support the child using your own money;
b.) To make sure the child has all the necessary things of life including medical care, food, clothing, and housing;
c.) To help the child grow - physically, psychologically, and emotionally; and
d.) To guide the child towards becoming an independent adult.
5. How do I become a guardian? Apply to the provincial court of Alberta. The appropriate law is Alberta’s Family Law Act. The application forms may be found at courthouses and online at www.albertacourts.ca. At that page, click the link for Family Justice Services.
6. Do I need help applying to the provincial court of Alberta to be made a child’s legal guardian? It depends – for example, the facts may not be simple and someone may want to oppose a guardianship application. In those situations, people applying to be made legal guardians may need help. Several sources can provide them help – for example:
a.) Alberta Law Line provides detailed legal information to callers and can provide free legal advice by telephone to callers who qualify for advice. To see the qualifications for free legal advice, visit www.lawline.legalaid.ab.ca. To reach the Law Line, call 780-644-7777 in Edmonton and 1-866-845-3425, toll-free, elsewhere in Alberta.
b.) Lawyers have experience making guardianship applications in court. Phone books provide the names and numbers of law offices and lawyers. Alberta’s Lawyer Referral Service gives out names and numbers for free – call 403-228-1722 in Calgary and 1 800 661-1095 elsewhere in Alberta.
c.) Alberta’s Family Justice Services (FJS) may provide relevant help to people making guardianship applications. Alberta Justice and the Alberta courts partner to provide FJS. To reach FJS, go to www.albertacourts.ca or call Service Alberta at 310-0000, toll-free, and ask for Family Justice Services. FJS also has units that can help with guardianship applications, such as the Family Law Information Centre and Family Court Counsellor Services.
d.) Alberta’s Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) provides information and education about family law, including making an application in Provincial Court. To reach FLIC, go to www.albertacourts.ca or call Service Alberta at 310-0000, toll-free, and ask for the Family Law Information Centre. Alternately, you can call FLIC at 780- 415-0404 in Edmonton, 403-297-6600 in Calgary and 403-297-6600 elsewhere in Alberta.
e.) Alberta’s Family Court Counsellor Services (FCC) can help people apply to court for guardianship orders. FCC does not help people who have lawyers. To contact FCC, go to www.albertacourts.ca and click the link for Family Justice Services. Alternately, call 780- 427-8343 in Edmonton, 403-297-6981 in Calgary and 403-340-7187 elsewhere in Alberta. To reach any number, toll-free, dial Service Alberta at 310-0000 and, then, the area code and number.
7. What if I am a child’s guardian and someone else is a guardian, and we cannot get along enough to cooperate about the child? Mediators can help guardians cooperate about the child. Mediation Services provides information and assistance to parents with parenting disputes. To contact Mediation Services, visit www.albertacourts.ca and click the link for Family Justice Services or call 403-297-6981 in Calgary, 780-427-8329 in Edmonton or 403-340-7187 elsewhere in Alberta. To reach any number, toll-free, dial Service Alberta at 310-0000 and, then, the area code and number.
8. Can I just stop working with the other guardian? No. Guardians are supposed to work together regarding the child. This is a legal requirement. Only a court order that says they do not have to work together frees guardians from this requirement.
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