I am age 12 – 17. What are my rights in a minor guardianship case?

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

If you are a teen and someone has filed to have a court appoint a guardian for you, read this to find out what your rights are. #4402EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if you are age 12 – 17 and either of these is true:

  • You received papers asking a court to appoint a guardian for you.

  • You need someone to take care of you because your parents cannot do it or are not doing it.

You will learn

  • What a minor guardianship is

  • How you can file one yourself

  • Alternatives to guardianship

  • When you can get a lawyer to represent you in the guardianship

  • What to do if you do not think you need a guardian

  • How you can be a part of the proceedings

  • How you can ask the court to end a guardianship if you don't need it anymore

Under a new state law that started in January 2021, this court process authorizes someone to take care of a child who is not their own.  The process is officially called guardianship of a minor.

*A minor is any child under age 18.

Your legal guardian would have the same duties and responsibilities toward you as a parent regarding your support, care, education, health, safety and welfare.  They would also get physical custody of you. You would live with them.

The court will only award someone guardianship of you if is in your best interest and one of these is true:

  • Your parents agree to the guardianship.

  • Their parental rights have been legally ended by a court (terminated).

  • No parent is willing or able to take care of you.

Yes, you can.

The law allows a youth to file for guardianship for themselves. However, the process is complicated. It can take time. It would be easier for your relative to file than for you to do it.

But you and your relative may have other, cheaper, easier options. Your parent who is in prison could give your relative power of attorney to take care of you. This would be good for at least two years. You would not have to go to court. Read Power of Attorney (POA) for Parents to learn more.

An adult who is not part of the case must hand you the papers. Check the title of each page. It is right under the caption on the first page of each pleading, in bold.

Sample Court Form Caption for Minor Guardianship



*The title might also say Emergency Minor Guardianship Petition.

*The information above this title can also help you. The caption tells you which county the case was filed in. Your name should be listed in "Respondent/s (minors/children)."

These papers should include:

  • Minor Guardianship Petition

  • Summons

  • Notice of Hearing

You may also have gotten other papers. Read everything you get carefully. The papers explain your rights.


Maybe. If you are age 12 or older, you can ask the court to give you an attorney. If the court agrees that you need an attorney, they will appoint you one. You do not pay the attorney. The court will pay for it. If the court does not give you a lawyer, see below for where to go for legal help.

*The court may but does not have to give you a lawyer.

You can object to the guardianship. You can put your objection in writing and/or go to the court hearing and tell the judge you do not want or need a guardian.

Yes! You have the right to take part in the case. This means you can

  • Respond to the petition.

  • Go to and take part in the court hearing.

  • Communicate with the court.

All your rights are listed in the Notice to Minors that you should have been given as part of the papers that started the guardianship case. If you didn't get this form, talk to a lawyer right away. See get legal help, below.

You have the right to ask the court to end (terminate) the guardianship. The court can terminate the guardianship if any of these is true:

You can also ask the court to change (modify) the guardianship if you want a different guardian. The Administrative Office of the Courts website has the forms to terminate or modify a guardianship.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Download PDF | Printer-friendly

Last Review and Update: Apr 03, 2023
Was this information helpful?
Back to top