A legal guardian can be a helpful addition to caring for your child. Whether you’re considering appointing a guardian or thinking of becoming one, you’ll need to know what guardianship entails. Read on to learn the differences between guardianship and parental rights to answer the question of does guardianship override parental rights.

What Is a Guardianship?

A guardian is an adult that is appointed by the court to care for a child. This power can be granted to an individual by the parents themselves or by the government. Guardianship does not override the rights of the parents.

Qualifications of a Guardian

A legal guardian must be approved through legal channels to become responsible for the child. However, they must also meet these minimum qualifications:

  • Be 18 or more years of age
  • Be of sound mind
  • Live in the US or be a legal resident
  • Have not been convicted of a felony

What Does a Guardian Do?

A guardian has the authority to care for the child, but there are some things they cannot do. Guardians can not make any major decisions for the child. This right is still reserved for the parents of the child.

Guardians serve more day-to-day functions of caring for the child. They may take the child to school, doctor appointments, and other events. The exact role of a guardian is unique from situation to situation. Each guardian’s responsibilities will be outlined in the court documents granting them guardianship.

Does the Parent Choose the Guardian?

The court will make the final decision on who will protect the best interests of the child. However, parents can give a preference to whom they wish to become a legal guardian for their children if needed. The court will usually use the parent’s preferred guardian if they become incapacitated or cannot care for the child.

If the parent is still living, they can choose to appoint a guardian whenever they want. Even after filing the court documents to appoint temporary guardianship, a parent can change or revoke guardianship at any time.

However, the parents may have less authority when the guardian is appointed by court order against their wishes. This occurs when the court appoints a guardian because they believe the child’s well-being is at risk.

A Guardianship Is Temporary

Unlike parental rights, guardianship is temporary. The court can remove the guardian at any time. Sometimes an expiration date is added when the guardian is appointed. At that time the guardianship will expire.

Parental rights, on the other hand, are not temporary. Parental rights can only be terminated if the court deems them unfit.

How Long Does a Guardianship Last?

When the biological parents are alive and capable of caring for the child, guardianship is often temporary. In these situations, the exact length of the guardianship will depend on how long the guardian is needed.

If the parents are deceased or have had their parental rights terminated, permanent guardianship may be granted. Permanent guardians will usually last until the minor child turns 18. Some of the reasons a permanent guardianship can end before the child turns 18 are as follows:

  • The minor joins the military
  • The minor is married
  • The minor enters a registered partnership
  • The guardian can no longer carry out their duties

Parental Termination of a Guardianship

In most cases, a parent has the right to terminate guardianship at any time for any reason. Guardians are often appointed by the parent for a temporary amount of time. When the guardianship is no longer needed, the parent may terminate.

Guardianship Versus Parental Rights

A guardian is not a parent and, therefore, does not have parental rights over the child. The parents reserve the right to maintain all major decision-making power. This includes everything from where the child will attend school to any decisions about their medical care. Parents also maintain the right to have contact with their children, even if a legal guardianship is in effect.

In some cases, the guardian can be temporarily granted these decision-making rights. Usually, this occurs when the guardian has physical custody of the child or the parent’s rights have been suspended. Even in cases where the guardian is granted additional authority temporarily, they still will not have parental rights over the child.

Final Thoughts

For more information about the legal process for appointing a guardian, give us a call at 800-840-1998. We have experts on hand ready to address your questions about choosing a guardian for your children.