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.