Guardianship vs. Custody in Alpharetta

Guardianship and custody are both legal terms that define the legal relationship between an adult and a child, but there are also several differences. If you find yourself in the position of caring for a grandchild or another relative it is wise to understand these differences.

Our firm can help you understand the differences in guardianship vs. custody in Alpharetta so that you can feel confident that you are making the right choice for your family. Our skilled attorneys can review your options with you and help you create the proper legal relationship.

What is Custody?

There are two types of custody, physical and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make major life decisions concerning the child such as educational, medical, and religious decisions. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with and who provides day-to-day care for the child. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the child spends about equal time with both parents.

In cases of divorce or custody disputes, the court applies the best interest of the child standards to determine how custody should be divided. Courts will almost always award custody to one of the parents unless both parents are unfit to care for the child or both parents are deceased. In these cases, a third party may be awarded custody.

Factors That Courts Consider When Awarding Custody

Courts will generally prefer to award custody to a blood relative of the child. The court will also use the best interest of the child standard when awarding custody to a third party. Some factors courts will consider include:

  • Age of the child
  • Wishes of the child if they are age 14 or older
  • Relationship with the parent or other members of the house
  • Mental or physical health of the parents
  • Any special needs of the child
  • Continuation of a stable home environment
  • The placement of siblings

Understanding the Role of a Guardian

Parents generally have legal and physical custody of their children and these rights are not taken away except in extenuating circumstances. Guardians are individuals who are court-appointed to make decisions for a child but are often limited in scope and duration.

Guardians are appointed to care for a child when the child’s parents are unable to do so due to illness, incarceration, or some other reason. A grandparent, relative, family friend, or foster parent can all be guardians. A child’s guardian makes the day-to-day decisions for the child’s care.

A legal guardian usually has physical custody of the child. They can authorize medical care for the child and attend school conferences, parent-teacher conferences, and sign authorizations permitting school field trips or extracurricular activities.

Differences in Guardianship vs. Custody

There are several differences between guardianship vs. custody in Alpharetta. First of all, a guardian may be appointed by either the parent of the child or the court, but custody can only be granted by the court. Further, custody is only applied to minor children while guardianship can also apply to adults. Guardianship is also usually limited in scope while custody is broader.

Guardianship usually involves a child living with their guardian. Therefore, the guardian has physical custody and the child’s parent does not. However, the biological parents’ rights have not been terminated. Instead, the guardian has temporary authority to act as the decision maker for the child. This contrasts custody where the parent’s rights are terminated.

Talking to our Firm About Guardianship vs. Custody in Alpharetta

If you are seeking custody or guardianship of a child, you may want to understand the rights and responsibilities that come with it. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand the differences in guardianship vs. custody in Alpharetta.

We can help you through the legal process of obtaining guardianship or custody of a child in your care. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation and determine your next steps.

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