Legally speaking, when we talk about the guardianship of a child, it’s important to first define what it isn’t. Guardianship is not adoption, which is when the biological parents of a child relinquish all parental rights and obligations, and the adopted parents become the legal parents. Instead, guardianship is a legal relationship between a minor child and a guardian that grants certain rights and responsibilities to the guardian regarding the child. It does not sever the legal relationship that exists between parent and child, but it coexists with it.

The responsibilities of a guardian cover providing for the needs of the child. This includes things such as education, housing, food, medical care, and managing the child’s finances. If you’re taking care of a child that is not your own, there are numerous serious difficulties you might be faced with. Without guardianship, for example, you cannot enroll the child in school and getting medical care can become tricky. Also, since guardianship is a legal right, you would have a say in the child’s future, whereas a caretaker would not.

While there are several reasons for becoming a guardian, are there any reasons not to? First, filing for guardianship might create a dispute between you and the child’s biological parents. It’s possible that they may object, which could make the guardianship process extremely difficult. Plus, since many institutions such as schools and hospitals require parental authorization, there’s a chance that you may encounter problems along the way.