What is the difference between custody and guardianship in Georgia?

What is the Difference Between Custody and Guardianship in Georgia?

Understanding the legal frameworks surrounding children’s care can be complex. One of the most common questions I get asked as a lawyer is, “What is the difference between custody and guardianship?” The short answer is the level of security involved – custody is generally much more secure than a guardianship, which can generally be terminated any time by the parent. Custody however must be terminated by the courts.

This article will help you understand the intricacies of this topic in the context of Georgia law.

Guardianship vs Custody

The first point of confusion often lies in understanding guardianship vs custody.

Custody refers to the legal responsibility for a child’s care and decision making. It is usually granted to biological parents but can also be awarded to other individuals through a court process. Custody can be joint (shared between two parents) or sole (one parent has all the responsibilities).

On the other hand, guardianship is a legal relationship between a guardian and a child when the parents are unable to take care of the child. The guardian has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, similar to a parent.

Does Guardianship Override Custody?

A question often raised is, “Does guardianship override custody?” The answer is not straightforward. In some cases, a guardian may have more authority than a custodial parent in the moment, especially if the court determines it’s in the child’s best interest. However, this doesn’t mean that the custodial parent loses all rights.

Difference Between Guardian and Custodian

Another important distinction to make is the difference between a guardian and a custodian. A custodian is a person who has been granted custody of a child. They are responsible for the child’s day-to-day care and major decisions. A guardian, however, steps in when parents or the custodian can’t provide care, due to reasons like death, illness, or imprisonment.

Custody is more likened to a parent-child relationship. Guardianship means you can make decisions on behalf of a child and for their best interest, but it does not necessarily mean you and the child are like parent and child.

Can a Legal Guardian Deny Visitation?

“Can a legal guardian deny visitation?” is another common query. While a legal guardian has many of the same rights as a parent, they cannot arbitrarily deny a parent visitation rights unless it’s deemed necessary for the child’s safety or well-being and explicitly listed in the court’s order granting them guardianship.

What is the Difference Between Temporary Guardianship and Temporary Custody?

Temporary guardianship and temporary custody both refer to short-term arrangements. The primary difference is that temporary custody typically involves parents, while temporary guardianship can involve any adult deemed fit by the court.

Legal Guardian vs Parent

In the legal guardian vs parent debate, it’s crucial to understand that while a guardian assumes many of a parent’s responsibilities, they do not replace the parent. Parents still have rights and responsibilities unless they have been legally terminated.

Does Permanent Guardianship Terminate Parental Rights?

This brings us to the question, “Does permanent guardianship terminate parental rights?” The answer is no. Even in cases of permanent guardianship, parents still have certain rights, such as the right to request visitation. The child is also able to inherit from their parents, even if someone else has permanent guardianship of them.

Does Guardianship Override Parental Rights in Georgia?

In Georgia, guardianship does not automatically override parental rights. A court must determine that it’s in the child’s best interest for the guardian to have more authority.

How Long Does Permanent Guardianship Last?

Permanent guardianship, despite its name, does not necessarily last forever. It lasts until the child turns 18, or the court determines that the parents can resume their duties, or if the child’s circumstances change significantly.

How to Get Guardianship of a Child Without Going to Court

Finally, you might wonder, “How can I get guardianship of a child without going to court?” While it’s always recommended to go through legal channels, there are instances where an informal agreement can be reached between the parties involved. However, this doesn’t give the guardian the full legal rights and protections that come with a court-granted guardianship.

In Georgia, you can get a consent guardianship order with Probate Court by filing the proper documentation. So this may be an option to consider, to make sure that your guardianship is legal and enforceable.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the complexities of custody and guardianship can be challenging. If you’re facing such issues, it’s always best to consult with a legal professional who can guide you through the process and ensure the best outcome for all involved, especially the child.

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