What is guardianship?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Guardianship occurs when an adult takes care of the personal needs, including shelter, education, and medical care of a child who is not his or her own. A guardian may also provide financial management for a child, though sometimes a second person, often called a 'conservator' or guardian of the estate,' is appointed for this purpose. As a general rule, guardianships are not granted unless the parents voluntarily consent, the parents have abandoned the child, or a judge finds that it would be detrimental to the child for his or her parents to have custody. A guardianship doesn't result in termination of parental rights if the child's parents are still alive, and may be continued or terminated by the court as the situation of the child or birth parents changes. After a guardianship is ordered, the guardian has full custodial rights over the child and is required to provide for the child's care, comfort, and maintenance. The guardian has no formal obligation to provide financial support to the child, but may seek child support from the child's estate, birth parents, Social Security, welfare, or public assistance programs.

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