Call: 360-866-7393

What Is The Difference Between Custody and Guardianship

Home / Divorce Blog / What Is The Difference Between Custody and Guardianship

In the event of divorce, it’s important to understand the distinction between custody and guardianship. They are both centered around the care of a minor, but there are different circumstances where custody and guardianship apply.

Your Custody Rights

Custody is a term reserved most commonly for divorce court. If you are a biological parent, you should be awarded joint custody along with the co-parent, barring neglect, abuse, or any other court-determined reason that deems you unfit to fulfill the role of a parent.

Custody can be split between legal custody and physical custody. If you’re the father, your legal custody rights involve deciding things such as your child’s schooling and healthcare. Again, if you share joint custody with the co-parent, these are matters that you need to discuss to come to a final agreement. 

Physical custody then involves your right to spend time with your child, i.e., your visitation rights. Again, depending on the child’s age and the specifics of your parenting plan, custody rights last until the child reaches the age of majority (the age at which the child is legally considered an adult). Until such time, custody is usually shared. 

Losing one’s custodial rights is usually the result of the aforementioned abuse, neglect, or wrongdoing in the eyes of the court. If this is the case, or in the event of one of the parents passing away, full custody may be granted to the other parent.  

Your Guardianship Rights

When both parents pass away or no longer have the mental or physical capacity to raise a child responsibly after consideration by the court, a guardian is then appointed. Guardianship can also extend to adults who are deemed unable to care for themselves. 

A guardianship is often considered more temporary and it is seen as a stopgap solution if a parent is unable to raise a child for a period of time. Perhaps they’re undergoing rehabilitation in a clinic, or they are out of the country. The rights of a guardian are usually limited to assisting the child in legal, contractual, and administrative matters. This includes safeguarding the child’s property and making day-to-day decisions, not major life choices such as those surrounding education or upbringing.

A parent of sound mind and body can appoint a guardian in the event of something happening to them. Courts will usually place great emphasis on this choice, but it’s not cut and dry. Again, custody rights will trump the suggested guardian should one parent die and, say, wish for the child to be raised by their grandparents.

The Rights of Grandparents

There is no law pertaining to the rights of grandparents to care for their grandchildren. It is by no means assumed that they’re best suited to become guardians or raise the next generation of children. Often though, if both parents are incapacitated, they are first in line to take care of the children. Courts look favorably upon grandparents who have already played an active role in a child’s life up to that point in time. 

Getting divorced means not only separating from your partner, but also separating from his or her parents and their extended family. Not only is this painful, but it can also cause complications later on, should you have different ideas on guardianship arrangements. As you battle for custody in your divorce proceedings, it makes sense to establish guardianship responsibilities in the event of something happening to you and/or your spouse. 

Contact Divorce Lawyers For Men

Planning for these situations is where we come in. Seek out legal guidance from someone who’s done this often enough to know what outcomes are worth planning for. It’s a difficult conversation with your spouse that can lead to a clause in your divorce agreement. Consulting with professionals can save you a lot of heartache further down the road.

At Divorce Lawyers For Men, we understand that life happens and plans change. Mediation with your spouse and preparing a divorce agreement that balances custodial duties with guardianship alternatives are the outcomes we are after.  

With your child’s best interests at heart, we are willing to fight for your custody rights as a father– and protect your child with responsible guardianship opportunities too. We offer a 30-minute consultation if you need further advice on how to handle these provisions in your divorce agreement, we’ll be glad to help.

Contact us now for top-tier representation in your custodial and guardianship matters.

Real People, Real Results

Divorce Lawyers for Men Reviews

"I never thought my wife would agree to anything. After a few discussions though, we were able to agree on a lot of issues concerning the children. Divorce Lawyers for Men helped me put those agreements in writing and resolve my divorce with less conflict."

"Divorce Lawyers for Men was very helpful with my case. The staff and attorneys are very knowledgeable and provided great advice. They provided me understanding of various courses of action and brought to light specific things I wouldn't have thought of. Most importantly respected my decisions and beliefs in finalizing my case."

"My wife wanted to live in our house with her new boyfriend while I kept paying the mortgage. Divorce Lawyers for Men made sure the court saw all our property and debts. We sold the house and split the proceeds. I didn't have to pay for any free rides."

"I never wanted to get divorced. One day my wife came home and said that she had met someone else. Why do I have to lose my house and my children just because she is done with our marriage? Thankfully, I hired Divorce Lawyers for Men."

Washington's Only Statewide Family Law Network

Select an Office near You.

1520 140th Ave NE #200
Bellevue, WA 98005
2727 Oakes Ave #201
Everett, WA 98201
555 W Smith Street, Suite 106
Kent, WA 98032
3025 Limited Ln NW #200
Olympia, WA 98502
Port Orchard
1740 Pottery Ave #300
Port Orchard, WA 98366
2102 E Main Ave #203
Puyallup, WA 98372
701 5th Ave #4200
Seattle, WA 98101
1008 N. Washington St., Second Floor
Spokane, WA 99201
1015 Pacific Avenue #301
Tacoma, WA 98402
237 NE Chkalov Dr #212
Vancouver, WA 98684