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What are the Differences Between Adoption and Guardianship in California?

Adoption and guardianship are similar concepts, which is why they are constantly confused with each other. The care and responsibility for a minor are oftentimes the priority in both legal processes. However, in legal terms, there are certain considerations that set them apart.

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a legal process that establishes a legal relationship between adoptive parents and their children. This process breaks any legal relationship of the child with their previous parents. Adoption can be brought about through the termination or waiver of all parental rights, or, in turn, through consent to legal adoption from both parents (biological and adoptive).

When the adoption process is finalized, the adoptive parent legally receives all the rights and responsibilities over the child as if they were a biological parent. This type of relationship is seen before the law as the same biological relationship of a family. A different birth certificate including the adoptive parents is even drawn up for the child.

What is Guardianship?

A guardianship, on the other hand, consists of a foster care situation. In this case, the guardian is also responsible for the children and has full legal authority over them. Guardianship of a minor cannot be granted to an individual until they turn 18, but it is important to remember that the child's parents will still retain their parental authority. A legal guardian can be a member of the child's family such as a brother, an uncle, or a grandparent, as well as a stepparent or adoptive parent.

There are situations in which a family friend or acquaintance who is not directly related to the child may be appointed as the child's legal guardian. Regardless of who is appointed legal guardian, they will be given all the responsibilities and rights of a biological parent over the child. It should be noted that the court can annul the guardianship if it determines that the minor's guardian is no longer a good choice to care for the child and maintain their well-being.

What is the Difference Between Adoption and Guardianship of a Child?

Although adoption and guardianship are legal arrangements related to the care of children, there are some important differences between them. One of them is the length of each agreement. While guardianship is a temporary arrangement of the child with a guardian, adoption is a permanent arrangement of the child with a new family.

If I am a Legal Guardian, Can I Adopt the Child?

If you find yourself in possession of guardianship of a minor, then you are probably wondering if it is possible to become their full legal guardian by adopting them. It is common for legal guardians of minors to legally become their adoptive parents. And the answer is yes, it is possible. For this, one or both biological parents of the minor must sign a document stating that they agree with the adoption of the child by the guardian, as well as a waiver of the rights and responsibilities of the minor.

In the event that one of the parents, or both, opposes the adoption process, the guardian is entitled to request a court to intercede. A court may annul the parental authority over the child for abandonment, a felony, or some other cause. In the state of California, there is also the possibility of annulling the parental authority over the child if the child has been found out of the care and custody of their parents for a minimum of two years. In these cases, the court may decide on the adoption based on the greater good of the child.

Are You Looking to Adopt in California?

It should be noted that both legal processes are complex and highly circumstantial. The details of each one may vary in each different case. If you are considering the adoption or guardianship of a child, it is best to consider speaking with an attorney who is knowledgeable in these matters. We here at SAC Attorneys LLP understand this, and our team of family law attorneys can help guide you through this process. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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