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Guardianship Vs. Adoption: Why The Two Are Different

Adopting a child is much different from being the guardian to a child. Here are the major differences between the two:


One of the major differences between the two processes is how long they last. Adoption is permanent while guardianship is temporary. If you adopt a child, they become your child for all intents and purposes, and your child will always be your child. You can't have the child for five years and decide you want to give them up for whatever reason; the law will always hold you responsible for a child.

This is different from the case of guardianship that is set up with a definite end date in mind. In most cases, your guardianship of a child terminates when the child becomes an adult. However, it may also end early if you renounce your guardianship.

Parental Rights

A parent who gives up their child for adoption loses their parental rights. This means that, for legal purposes, they cease to be considered parents for the child. This means biological parents who give up their child for adoption will not be able to decide where the child goes to school, which religion the child should subscribe to, and which state the child should leave in. It is the new parents, the adoptive parents, who will make all these decisions. This is not the case with guardianship, where the biological parents get to maintain their legal rights to the child.

Child Support

As previously mentioned, adopting a child makes them your child in the eyes of the law, which means you will be required to provide for their financial needs even if you break up with your partner. For example, when you and your partner adopt a child and divorce a couple of years later, the law will require the non-custodial parent to pay child support for the child. However, the law won't require you to pay child support for a child just because you are the child's guardian.


Lastly, the law also handles inheritance issues differently for guardianship and adoption purposes. In many places, your children will inherit from you unless you take active steps to disinherit them, and you may not be allowed to disinherit your minor children. This is the case even for adopted children because they are legally your children. However, a child doesn't have the right to inherit from you merely because you are their guardian. If you are a child's guardian and you want them to inherit from you, then you have to make special provisions for that in your estate planning endeavors.

Contact a lawyer like Diane Dramko, Attorney At Law to learn more.