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People often don’t understand the difference between guardianship and adoption. But whatever side of the situation you’re on, know that guardianship does not make you a parent. All that you need to know about guardianship is:

  • What is a guardian, and why you shouldn’t be scared to be in this position;
  • The different types of guardianships; And
  • Guardianship vs. adoption – what are the main differences between them.

What is a Guardian?

When someone cannot care for their personal or financial needs because of age, disease, or disability, the court can appoint a guardian. These guardians do not take the place of a parent and are not supposed to be permanent. Often, they are selected to get someone’s life back on track, whether it is the individual themselves or their parent.

Guardianships are in place to protect adults with severe disabilities, a hospital stay, or any impairment that affects their decision-making. Guardianship can also be required to safeguard a minor.

When the court appoints a guardian, they grant the guardian the legal right to act for that person, make decisions about and for them, and make decisions about their property.

To prepare guardians for their responsibilities, they must complete an orientation program and training programs. There are also other resources along the way. Remember, everything that a court does is in the child and adult’s best interest. The court wouldn’t just leave the guardian hanging.

Types of Guardianships

There are two types of guardians: guardianship of a person and guardianship of property.

Guardianship of the person makes the guardian responsible for caring for the person and making personal decisions.

Guardianship of the property makes the guardian responsible for managing the assets and finances of the person they are a guardian of. They also have control over the guardianship estate. They are required to attempt to preserve the person’s property and act for the benefit and welfare of the person. Guardians have a fiduciary duty to the adult or minor they are the guardian of.

The court may permit one person to be both guardian of the person and the property, or two different people can serve in each role.

Guardianship vs. Adoption

It may not be easy to understand how someone can be a guardian without ownership over the child. So, it’s super easy to get these two confused. In essence, guardianship is situational, and adoption isn’t.

Once the adoption is finalized, adoptive parents are now the child’s legal parents for the rest of their lives. Parents will always have the first say over their child, provided everything is going alright in their lives.

In both cases, you can elect to provide for and help the child or the adopted adult.

Here is a direct comparison of adoption vs. guardianship:

Adoption Guardianship
It severs the legal rights of the biological parents. You are the child’s legal parents, and no one can change that. Biological parents still have rights. Guardians are there for a big decision, or until the situation that the person is in gets resolved.
Permanent Temporary
Kids can inherit from parents Guardians must stipulate inheritances in their will
Birthparent doesn’t pay child support The parent may be required to provide child support

In both cases, the child has people who love them and want to help. The only difference is the length of time the child will be under their eye. In either case, it isn’t easy to navigate the paperwork on your own.

We’re here to help. Give JC Law a call to discuss your options. A free initial consultation into your situation to adopt or be a guardian are available.

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