Many children live in the primary care of grandparents or other relatives. In order to confirm the legal rights of the caretaker, the Court can issue an order for guardianship. Guardians have many of the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents naturally have. When the Court approves a guardianship, the guardian becomes the primary caretaker, with the right to have the child living with him or her and the responsibility to take care of the child's basic needs.

The Court may approve a schedule of parenting time for the biological parent(s) so that the parent(s) can continue to see the child, but the guardian usually becomes the primary decision-maker and residential caretaker. While the Court may issue permanent guardianship orders, most guardians assume the role temporarily, until at least one of the parents have the ability to physically and financially care for the child.

Guardianship orders are generally necessary to allow the person who is caring for the child to enroll the child in school and make medical decisions when taking the child to the doctor. When a child is living with a non-parent without a Court approved legal guardianship, the biological parent has the right to resume caring for the child at any time.