Many people are confused by the differences between adoption and legal guardianship, but when considering either of these options in Arizona, it’s helpful to better understand some of the details.

When you bring a child into a family – through either adoption or guardianship – you open your heart to an invaluably enriching and rewarding experience. By becoming better informed about the distinctions between the two, you’ll help ensure that your experience goes more smoothly.

Legal Status

In an adoption, the birth parents either voluntarily relinquish their parental rights or have their parental rights terminated by the court. As such, all those parental rights are passed to the adoptive parents.

In other words, adoption – much like giving birth to a child – represents a permanent legal relationship.

Guardianship, on the other hand, doesn’t provide the same level of legal status, and that legal status can vary dependent upon the situation:

• The birth parents’ rights may have been relinquished voluntarily or terminated involuntarily prior to guardianship – but this isn’t always the case.
• If the birth parents haven’t been relieved of their parental rights, they retain the right to request that the court remove their child from guardianship and return him or her to them.
• The guardian takes on the legal responsibility of taking custody of the child and of providing him or her with care and supervision.

Making Decisions Related to the Child

Adoptive parents assume all rights and responsibilities related to making decisions about the adoptive child. A guardian is usually granted the right to make most major decisions, including those related to the child’s education, medical care, and other important life decisions.

The Child’s Legal Name

When you adopt a child, you’re allowed to choose your adoptive child’s name, which means that your child can share your last name. If you become a child’s guardian, the child will usually retain his or her last name.

The Child’s Inheritance

An adopted child has all the rights of inheritance that a child born to you would have (if you have no Will). If you have a valid Will, your adoptive child’s rights will be established via your stated wishes (just as they would be for any children born to you). If a child of whom you are a guardian isn’t specifically included in your will, he or she has no legal rights of inheritance.

Adoptions and guardianships both serve important functions in children’s lives (and in the lives of their adoptive parents and guardians). An experienced Arizona adoption attorney will help you better understand your legal options and the path toward welcoming a child into your home and heart.

The Importance Of Discussing Your Options With An Attorney

While guardianship and adoption are similar, they confer significantly different rights and responsibilities upon either guardians or adoptive parents. In addition, the legal procedures and consequences of the two are vastly different, so it is important to fully consider all of your options.

A lawyer familiar with Arizona adoption and guardian law will be able to walk you through the process and help you determine whether pursuing a guardianship or adoption is appropriate in your case.

In addition, should you already bye the guardian or adoptive parent of a child, a lawyer can be of great assistance in ensuring that your legal relationship reflects your wishes with regard to issues such as benefits, the inheritance of property, or the ability to make important decisions regarding healthcare.

To Learn More About Arizona Adoption and Guardianship, Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today

Choosing to bring a child into your family through either adoption or guardianship is an enriching and rewarding experience, but it’s also a complex process. At Stuart & Blackwell, we work closely with our clients and take the time to fully understand their circumstances and goals. We have a thorough understanding of Arizona adoption law, ensuring we can resolve our clients’ issues quickly, efficiently, and favorably.

Allow the experienced adoption attorneys at Stuart & Blackwell to answer your questions and to knowledgeably guide you on the path toward welcoming a new child into your life. We’re here to help, so schedule your free consultation today by calling 480-420-2900.