When parents can no longer care for their children, legal guardians or adoptive parents may take over childrearing responsibilities.
While guardianships and adoptions are similar, knowing the answers to these questions may help people understand the differences between the two.
How does someone become a guardian?
There are two processes used to appoint guardians:
- Concerned individuals can petition the juvenile courts to remove children from unsafe environments
- If both parents die and leave a will or have their rights terminated, the state courts are responsible for designating guardians of minor children
While both processes result from different life situations of the children, the courts must appoint legal guardians.
What is the difference between guardianships and adoptions?
While both guardianships and adoptions transfer the responsibility of caring for children to people other than biological parents, there are several differences between the two.
- Parental rights – Guardianships do not terminate parental rights, while adoptions do
- Duration – Adoptions are permanent, while the courts review guardianships every year. Parents can also petition to end guardianships.
- Tax implications – Adopted children are qualifying dependants, while guardians can only claim children if they have lived with them for more than six months of the year
Despite the differences between guardians and adoptive parents, people who step into either role have control over medical and educational decisions for the children.
Can legal guardians choose to adopt?
In some situations, legal guardians may choose to petition for adoption. Guardians can pursue adoption when parents lose their rights, relinquish their rights, or abandon the children and have no communication with them for over a year.
Becoming legal guardians or adoptive parents are both excellent ways to help children in need of better home environments.