Adoption of a child terminates all of the birth parents’ rights and responsibilities, i.e., a birth parent cannot just reappear one day and try to reclaim the child. Additionally, once a child is adopted, the child’s birth parents are under no responsibility to provide monetary support for the child, and the child loses any right to inherit from them unless specified in the will. See, C.R.S. 19-5-211.

On the other hand, guardianship does not sever the rights and responsibilities of the birth parents, but means that a caregiver is responsible for the care and custody of the child. A legal guardian has the same obligations a parent would normally have, including providing the child with emotional and financial support, proper schooling, and the basic necessities that a child needs to live. See, C.R.S. 15-14-207. In contrast to an adoption, a guardianship often requires continued financial support from the parents to their child. In addition, should a child’s parents leave something of value behind when they die, the child maintains his or her right to inherit the parents’ estate.

A guardian has the same powers as a parent regarding the child’s “support, care, education, health, and welfare.” See, C.R.S. 15-14-208. For instance, a guardian may: (a) apply for and receive money for the support of the child otherwise payable to the child’s parent; (b) take custody of the child and establish the child’s place of custodial dwelling; (c) commence a proceeding or take other appropriate action to compel a person to support the child; (d) consent to medical care/treatment for the child; (e) consent to the marriage of the child;  and (f) delegate to the child certain responsibilities for decisions affecting the child’s well-being.

Accordingly, if you are wondering whether to choose a guardianship proceeding or adoption proceeding, consider these important differences. For instance, do you still want the child to inherit from his/her biological parent(s)? Do you still want the birth parent(s) to have financial responsibilities to the child? If the answer to these questions is yes, guardianship is probably the better choice.

Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC for all of your Family Law needs.