Knowing the adoption standards of Florida is a staple for any family lawyer as there are many situations in which adoption or guardianship may be appropriate for our clients.

There are several cases in which such proceedings occur, such as:

  • Care for an incapacitated person
  • Prospective adoptive parents looking to adopt a child
  • Working out legal parenting rights to married couples, singles, or thoes in the LGBTQ community
  • Consolidating the parenting rights of blended families

While lawyers are well versed in the differences between guardianship and adoption, the two terms are not as clear cut for everyday individuals. As such, we have put together a reference guide that shows the main differences between the two in hopes of helping you choose which one is right for your family.

Only One Option is Permanent

One of the main differences many do not realize is that while adoption is a permanent legal proceeding, guardianship is not. In fact, depending on the type of guardianship you elect, the duration of a guardian’s power can be limited to an ever narrower scope.

There are many types of adoption in Florida. These include arrangements between families and adoption agencies, open adoptions, surrogate agreements with a birth mother, or options for step parents looking to fully adopt the children in their blended family. These options will not only give parents full legal rights to their children and the decisions that will shape their life, but will also affect their legal inheritance rights down the line.

Conversely, guardianship is temporary– normally only lasting until the minor child is 18 years of age. After this time, the guardian loses their right to influence and decide the major factors in the life of the other individual. The individual also loses any legal connection or obligation to their former guardian.

However, there are less common situations, too, where a guardianship becomes a permanent fixture in an individual’s life regardless of age or circumstance. Such situations most often occur when an individual is deemed incapacitated by the Court and thus needs a capable adult to make decisions on their behalf.

When is Guardianship Appropriate?

Legal guardianship in Florida is recommended over adoption only when the desired outcome is temporary responsibility or when the “ward” (the person who receives guardian care) is an incapacitated adult.

While it is not uncommon for minors to receive guardianship either through an individual or an institution, guardianship rights can also be earned when the individual in question is an adult. As mentioned previously, the most common situation for adult guardianship is when the ward is an alleged incapacitated person.

Special Considerations: Adult Adoption and International Adoption

In most circumstances, especially those involving blended families, the adoption process and outcome rests on the birth parent giving consent to adoption.

Deciding Which Method is Appropriate

Ultimately, the decision to adopt or to serve as guardian will rely on a variety of factors. In either case, there is a stick outline in Florida law for adoptive families and guardians of a person alike. As such, whether looking to adopt a new family meme or seeking to appoint a guardian for a loved one, it is recommended you speak to an experienced attorney.

Dave Roy Law, located conveniently in West Palm Beach, can handle all your family law needs. Staffed with experienced lawyers, we are well versed on both guardian and adoption laws. Start your family journey on the right foot by contacting us at 561-729-0095 to schedule an appointment.

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