Some child-related legal matters fall into the estate administration and planning field but may also overlap with family law. For example, guardianship and custody of a minor share several similarities but are usually separate from one another in most cases.
In family law terms, child custody goes to one or both (joint custody) biological parents when they separate or get a divorce. Guardianship involves assigning an individual to protect and care for a minor child.
What are other differences between custody and guardianship?
There are several differences between the two legal terms. Below you will find some examples of guardianship and custody to help you understand both relationships better:
- A child custody award typically goes to a biological or legal parent of the minor.
- A guardian is generally a non-parent, such as a family member (grandparent, older sibling, etc.) or a specially trained individual.
- Custody of a child lasts until his or her adulthood or until a custody modification occurs.
- Guardianships may last for a specified amount of time or until the minor becomes a legal adult.
- In most cases, neither a guardianship nor a child custody order results in the loss of parental rights for either parent.
- In both guardianships and custody, the parents may still have responsibilities like financially supporting the child.
Courts in Pennsylvania and elsewhere strive to preserve parent and child relationships unless they would cause harm to the child. Still, it is wise to consider acquiring legal counsel if you have an issue that requires a change of custody or guardianship for a child.
Handling child-related issues on your own could put your family’s future stability at risk. An experienced Pennsylvania advocate can help you take the right steps to protect the child involved.