How Does Guardianship of a Child Differ from Adoption?

There may be many reasons why a child’s parents may be temporarily incapable of caring for the child. When this is the case, a court in California may appoint a probate guardian to a child. A guardian may gain custody over the child, may be able to manage the property the child owns, or both. However, child guardianship is different from adoption.

First of all, in a guardianship the child’s parents do not lose their rights to the child; they can request reasonable contact with the child. Also, the court can put an end to the guardianship if the child’s parents show they are able to resume care over the child. In an adoption, on the other hand, the parents permanently lose their rights to the child. Also, the court supervises the guardian of a child. The court does not supervise parents who adopt a child. An adoption is also distinct in the fact that when it comes to an inheritance, the adopted child has the right to inherit per California law in the same that a parent’s biological child would.

In a probate guardianship, an adult who is not the child’s parent may have guardianship of the person. This means they are obligated to take care of the child and have physical and legal custody over the child. Relatives, friends or other suitable individuals may be named guardians of a child. A guardianship of the child’s estate, on the other hand, may be appointed to manage the child’s finances until the child is 18-years-old.

Children need to be raised in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. Sometimes this means temporarily placing the child under the care of a guardian, rather than the child’s birth parents. No matter what, however, when appointing a guardianship or ending a guardianship, it is important that the child’s best interests are taken into account.

Source:, “Guardianship,” accessed May 22, 2017

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