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What is the difference between custody and guardianship?

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Child Custody, Guardianships

Children need strong guidance. While that usually comes from their parents, it can be gained elsewhere as well. In Florida, a child may need guardianship depending on the circumstances. It’s important to know the difference between guardianship and custody.

What is custody?

Custody and guardianship are two different issues the court decides on. Whether it’s a married couple with children divorcing or an unwed couple with children splitting up, decisions must be made about the custody of the kids and where they should live. Custody also affects how much time a child spends living at each parent’s home.

There are also different types of child custody. If only one parent gains custody, he or she will get sole legal custody. When both parents have custody, it’s called joint custody.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is also granted by the court, but it involves someone other than the child’s parent being named. A guardian is an adult who is authorized to care for a minor child. If the court considers the parents to be unfit or if they’re absent from the child’s life, it will grant guardianship to another person.

Depending on the situation, the biological parents can still have parental rights even if another person is named as the child’s guardian. However, when the court decides guardianship, it may also give the guardian custody of the child if the parents are deceased. Guardianship gives a person legal rights and responsibilities to the child, and guardians usually gain physical custody as well. Guardianship ends once the child turns 18.

Difference between custody and guardianship

Usually, guardianship is determined by the court if the child’s parents have died or are not in the child’s life. In this scenario, the child is known as a ward. Once guardianship is determined, the guardian must always consider the child’s best interests when making decisions. The probate court makes determinations regarding guardianship.

Custody is determined by family court and involves the child’s biological or adoptive parents.

Being awarded guardianship is a huge responsibility. It means making the best decisions on the child’s behalf.