Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between custody and legal guardianship? What rights do I have if I have legal guardianship?

In most States "guardianship" is essentially equivalent to "custody"; the custodian/guardian makes decisions about and for the child, is responsible for the child, can authorize medical treatment, etc etc. Sometimes guardianship is given to a non-relative whereas custody is given to a biological parent.

Although there are some minor differences, "guardianship" generally means the same thing as custody: a package which includes all the rights, duties and responsibilities of a parent.

There are minor exceptions and variations here and there- in some States "custody" may not include authority over the child's estate (i.e. their property) whereas unqualified "guardianship" does. Because in the US each State formulates its own laws, this kind of thing can vary depending upon the State the child resides in.