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How Does Family Law Define Guardianship & Adoption? May 15, 2019

Willow Springs, Howell
How Does Family Law Define Guardianship & Adoption?, Willow Springs, Missouri

The terms “guardianship” and “adoption” have distinct meanings under family law. People who serve as guardians or adopt children have similar responsibilities, but the legal relationships between the two differ significantly. If you’re thinking about taking on a greater legal role in a child’s life, the information below might help you decide which one is right for your situation. 

What Is Guardianship?

A guardianship is a temporary legal relationship between a child and an adult who is not the child’s mother or father. Once the court approves an individual as a child’s guardian, that person has the legal responsibility to care for the child, including making decisions about the child’s education, health care, and finances. A guardianship does not end a child’s legal relationship to the birth parents; the parents continue to be responsible for child support, and they maintain their rights to custody and visitation. The rights of inheritance remain between the parents and child under guardianship. 

What Is Adoption?

family lawAdoption is the permanent establishment of a legal relationship between a child and an adult who is not the child’s biological parent. Once the court issues a judgment of adoption, it ends the legal relationship between the birth parents and child. The birth parents have no obligation to support the child or rights of custody, visitation, and inheritance. Under family law, the new adoptive parents receive all rights and responsibilities for the decision-making, financial support, and well-being of the child as if they were the birth parents. 


If you’re deciding between adoption and guardianship, the family law attorneys at Privette Law Office can navigate you through the process. Since 1984, they have served residents throughout Howell County, MO, providing effective and compassionate legal counsel and representation. Visit their website for a closer look at their services, including personal injury, estate planning, and family law, or call (417) 469-3535 to schedule a consultation today.

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