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A guardian is responsible for the child’s wellbeing, including:

  • nurturing the child’s physical, mental and emotional development
  • making sure they have food, clothing and shelter
  • consenting to their medical care
  • receiving their health or educational information
  • receiving and responding to their legal notices
  • dealing with their legal matters
  • appointing someone to act as their guardian – in an emergency – if you can’t be there

A guardian is required to make important decisions for the child, including:

  • the language(s) the child speaks
  • their religious and spiritual upbringing
  • where they live
  • who they live with and contact
  • if they work and what kind of work they do
  • their activities inside and outside of school


You can apply for a Guardianship Order if you’re either:

  • a parent who’s not a guardian
  • an adult who’s had care and control over the child for at least 6 months

If you gave birth to the child, you are already a legal guardian.

You (or the other parent) are a guardian if any of these situations applies:

Lived together

You and the other parent lived together:

  • when the child was born – and you lived together for at least 12 months is a row
  • when the child was born – and you were in the midst of an ‘adult interdependent relationship’:
    • 3 years of interdependence with another adult
    • less than 3 years, where you both signed an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement
    • less than 3 years, where both of you had a child together
  • after the child was born – and you had an adult interdependent relationship within 1 year of finding out about the child

Married or divorced

You and the other parent were:

  • married when the child was born
  • married after the child was born – within 1 year of finding out about the child
  • divorced during the pregnancy – with less than 300 days before the child was born

Financial or non-financial support

You or the other parent:

  • voluntarily gave money or offered financial help to the other parent or child – within 1 year of finding out about the child
  • gave non-financial support to the other parent or child – within 1 year of finding out about the child
  • gave or offered money or non-financial support to the birth mother

Order, deal or behaviour

You or the other parent have:

  • a court order that says you’re the guardian or only parent
  • a written deal with the other parent that says you’re a guardian
  • shown behaviour that demonstrates you meant to take on the responsibilities of the child’s guardianship – within 1 year of finding out about the child

How to apply

Step 1. Fill out the forms

Step 2. File your order

Do this at the same court, in the same location, where you’ve either:

  • already been to court with the other party
  • started any court action that hasn’t gone to court

If you haven’t done either of these things, file your claim at any court in Alberta.

Note: If you don’t come to court, the judge may make an order in your absence.

Private Guardianship – Child in the Care of the Director

If you are an adult making your own application for private guardianship of a child who is currently “in care” of Alberta Children’s Services – meaning there is an agreement or order that gives the director custody or guardianship of the child, and the director is not applying on your behalf – consult the Private Guardianship Self Help Guide.

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