Raising a child is a responsibility that is rife with both challenges and innumerable rewards. For some, raising a child may be the most important and significant thing that they ever do. Of course, there are many different ways to have a strong influence over a child’s life, shaping and guiding it. For some, becoming a child’s guardian provides that opportunity; for others, becoming a parent through adoption does. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our family law attorney can help you to understand the difference between guardianship and adoption and pursue the path that’s right for you. Reach out to our law firm directly to learn more. 

What Is the Difference Between Guardianship and Adoption?

While guardianship and adoption both involve the care of a minor child, they are two entirely distinct legal processes and commitments. 

Guardianship is a legal arrangement where an adult is appointed by the court to serve as the guardian of a minor under 18 years of age. At the time that the minor reaches age 18, the guardianship is terminated. The guardianship can also be terminated before the child reaches the age of majority if doing so is in the child’s best interests and there is a substantial reason to do so. While a guardian is responsible for providing care for a child and making decisions on a child’s behalf, a guardian is not a parent.

Adoption, on the other hand, does provide the adult with legal parental rights regarding the minor. Adoption is also permanent; an adoptive parent will remain the child’s parent past the child reaching the age of majority. With an adoption, the adoptive parent can also seek to change the child’s name and request a new birth certificate and Social Security card for the child. 

Finally, note that for guardianship, a child must agree to the guardianship if they are age 14 or older. For adoption, a child must agree to the adoption if they are age 12 or older. 

How to Determine Which Path Is Right for You

While there are some similarities between guardianship and adoption, they are each very unique legal arrangements with significant consequences. You should not pursue the adoption of a child unless you (and in some cases, the child) are sure that establishing legal parental rights is the right decision for you and your family. Guardianship, on the other hand, may be appropriate for situations in which temporary care is necessary. 

Get Help from a Qualified Family Law Attorney Today 

If you are pursuing a guardianship, an adoption, or if you have questions about either, our experienced legal team at the Law Office of Heather M. Ward can help.  To learn more about our family law attorney and how she can help you when you are seeking legal recognition to care for a child, reach out to our law office directly at (617) 903-8955 or send us a message online at your convenience. We are here to support you.