What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Custody
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What is the Difference Between Guardianship and Custody?

The words guardianships, custody, and adoption sometimes confuse people because their differences are imperfect and a somewhat convoluted. This post talks about the basic matters you might want to be mindful of when you are thinking about adoption or guardianship for your child(ren).

What Is Custody?

Custody is a legal arrangement stipulating who is going to maintain and care for the minor child. This typically occurs when parents get divorced or separate.

Custody could be legal or physical. Legal custody is in relation to a parent’s competence in making decisions on the child’s behalf. These comprise of your child’s religion, schooling, and health care. Physical custody is in reference to where your child resides.

What Is Guardianship?

When you are a child’s guardian, you are going to have the rights and responsibilities for caring for the child until they reach the age of eight teen. The court is also going to use the “best interest of the child” standard to establish if it is in the child’s best interest to have you as their guardian.

Parents are able be guardians, but a guardianship is usually created because the minor child requires someone else to make legal decisions on their behalf. In guardianships, parents continue their parental rights and obligations.

Variances Between Custody and Guardianship

The primary difference among the two is that custody is focused more on the parent/ child relationship whereas guardianship involves locating help for individuals that are not mentally and/or physically able of caring for themselves.

What Is Adoption?

Contrary to guardianships, adoption discontinues the biological parents’ rights. As an alternative, the adoptive parents have sole custody rights over the child.

Additionally, adoption is permanent and cannot be recovered by the biological parents.

Adoption or Guardianship?

In the end, being a parent, it is up to you to think about whether adoption or guardianship is right for your child. The following list details the primary variations between adoption and guardianship, that might help you make an educated decision.


  • Terminates the legal rights of the child’s biological parents.
  • Adoption is everlasting.
  • The child is able to inherit from their adoptive parents.
  • The parent is exempt of any child support responsibility.


  • Parents Legal rights stay intact.
  • Guardianship is momentary.
  • Guardians are required to stipulate a contingency in their will.
  • The parent might be required to offer child support.

Thinking about Adoption or Guardianship? Speak with an Attorney.

Whatever route you decide to take, both adoption and guardianship require comprehension of of the laws and comprehensive research. Additionally, states follow varying procedures. Therefore, it is critical to talk to a family law attorney prior to moving forward.



  1. Guardianship vs. custody vs. adoption. (2019, October 28). Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.findlaw.com/family/child-custody/guardianship-vs-custody-vs-adoption.html

Arizona Family Law

Naming guardians in your will can be part of your estate plan. You may think you’re too young or don’t have enough money to justify the expense, but if you have children, you have priceless assets. There are many considerations when naming guardians for your kids. However, the process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.

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