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Answers to Key Questions on Guardianship Issues

Our firm regularly receives certain questions about various topics related to family law, including guardianship. Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions we receive on this topic:

Q: What’s the difference between guardianship and adoption?

Guardianship establishes a legal relationship between an adult who is not the child’s parent and a child. This is similar to adoption, but does not end the legal relationship between the child and his/her biological parents. Those biological parents still must financially support the child in a guardianship arrangement.

Q: How does a guardianship end?

Guardianships will last until one of these three events happens:

  • The child reaches 18 years old
  • The child’s assets are completely used up (in a guardianship established solely for the purpose of financial management)
  • The child dies
  • A judge rules guardianship is no longer required

Q: What duties does a guardian perform?

Guardians provide for a child’s personal needs, including shelter, food, education and medical care. They may also manage a child’s assets — although in many cases, a separate person is appointed for this task.

Q: To what does ‘guardian ad litem’ refer?

Guardian ad litem is a court-appointed person to represent a child in court proceedings in which the minor child has interest. In a divorce or family court proceeding, they are commonly referred to as attorneys for the child or law guardians. Courts may also appoint guardians ad litem for adults who are unable to make their own decisions due to disability or incapacitation. The guardian ad litem tends to be a parent, attorney or close relative.  They may also represent the child’s interests in custody cases.

To learn more about guardianships and other issues related to family law, consult a skilled attorney with Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.