There are two types of guardianship:

  • Guardianship of a child: when someone who is not a child's parent acts like a parent because the actual parents of the child are no longer available or able to care for the child, such as when the parents are dead or missing, or have serious drug, alcohol, or mental problems.
  • Guardianship of an adult: when a person over the age of 18 is disabled or incapacitated, a court can appoint a guardian to make decisions about the care and treatment of the person and manage the person's property.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance does not handle guardianship cases directly, but we can try to find a volunteer attorney to take a guardianship case.

How to get help with Guardianship

The following departments at PLA provide legal assistance with Guardianship:

Intake Procedure:

Applicants may apply for assistance from the General Intake Unit by calling the telephone intake line or applying online.

Self-Help Resources

Planning for Custody and Care of Children: an Informational Guide for Immigrant Families

This guide is intended to give basic information under Pennsylvania law about custody of children and how to plan for and or deal with a change in circumstances due to a parent’s sudden or expected absence or inability to care for her/his children.  Available in Spanish.

Standby guardianship in Pennsylvania

This guide developed by the AIDS Law Project explains how standby guardianship works in Pennsylvania.

Adult guardianship in Pennsylvania

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) developed a guide to guardianship in Pennsylvania that explains the adult guardianship process.

For more information about helping people with disabilities, see DRN's guide to Consent, Capacity, and Substitute-Decision Making.

Fill out a Petition for Guardianship of Minor Children

You can create a Petition for Guardianship of Minor Children on-line using this form from PA Law Help.