If you're considering seeking guardianship of a minor that you know, you may be concerned about the process and the rights that will be afforded to you as the legal guardian. Below is a general outline of what legal guardianship is, how guardianship can be obtained, and what the differences between guardianship and adoption are.
What is Legal Guardianship?
Legal guardianship is a relationship between a guardian and a ward that is established through the courts and that is done for the benefit of the ward.
If your friend or family member is going through a rough patch, legal guardianship is an option that still allows them to maintain their parental rights but that gives another individual all the rights required to care for and raise them for a period of time. Guardianship is usually granted by the courts when it looks as if the parent of the child will be able to parent in the future but needs to work through some personal things now and cannot fully focus on their child.
How is Legal Guardianship Obtained?
Guardianship is a long process, but there are a number of ways that legal guardianship can be obtained.
While the majority of guardianship cases require the consent of one or both parents, sometimes the judge can overrule their consent. This can be done during a mental or physical health crisis or if the child's parents no longer have legal rights but adoption is not an option for the child. The process will involve filing of a petition, a background check to ensure you're a good candidate, and interviews to determine whether you're the best fit for the child. Since most guardianship cases do involve the parents consent, it's also usually good if the guardian and the parents get along and are on the same page regarding the child's care
What are the Differences Between Guardianship and Adoption?
While the majority of guardianship cases allow the biological parents to keep their parental rights, adoptions are only done when the biological parents' rights are terminated.
When you're the guardian of a child, you're the day-to-day parent. You'll make a lot of important decisions, including schooling and health, but ultimately, guardianship can again be granted to the biological parents. When you're the adopted parent, however, the decision is final and the child is forever yours. While guardianship can be difficult, especially if the child leaves you after an extended period of time, the benefits for the child and the guardian are innumerable.
To learn more about legal guardianship and what it might mean for you, consult with a family law attorney, like those at Ivy Law Group PLLC.