The Pros and Cons of Guardianship

If you have an adult child with a disability or are providing primary care for a child who is not biologically your own, you may want to consider a guardianship. This is a legal status where you take on the responsibilities for providing care and for making legal decisions on behalf of another individual.

When deciding whether to become a guardian, it is important to know the pros and cons of guardianship. This is certainly a complex situation. There are several benefits of guardianship, but some receive an offset from the pitfalls of guardianship. This list of the pros and cons of guardianship can help you see how guardianship would apply to your situation.

Guardianship Benefits

Becoming a guardian of another person has some important advantages that really aren’t available in other ways, which is why many people seek out this legal status. Specific guardianship benefits in the advantages and disadvantages of guardianship comparison include the following.

Improving the Child’s Life

Once you become a guardian, you can be confident that you will be able to help make the child’s life better by providing the care for your ward for whatever length of time is required.

Legal Rights

You will have the legal right to make financial, medical, and other decisions on behalf of your ward (in most cases).

Social Benefits

In many situations, especially with minor children, it is necessary to have a parent or legal guardian sign a legal document that makes you the guardian. Being named guardian will help to avoid any unnecessary complications or delays when you are making decisions for the ward.

Pitfalls of Guardianship

Seeking guardianship is not always the best option. Below we discuss some potential pitfalls of guardianship.

Unknown Time Commitment

It’s important to understand that your time serving as guardian could be only a few weeks or it could be many years. Once the legal or biological parents are able to begin caring for the child again, the guardianship will end.


Becoming a legal guardian comes with a lot of responsibilities. Rather than just taking care of someone because you want to, you will now be legally obligated to provide this care.

Legal Complications

As with any legal matter like this, you’ll have to go through the process of working through the courts to become a guardian.

Pros and Cons of Guardianship vs. Adoption

When considering the pros and cons of guardianship vs. adoption, the biggest difference is that adoption is a permanent process, while guardianship can be a temporary process. However, because the two processes have so many similarities, they can cause some confusion for people considering them.

Similarities of Adoption and Guardianship

The primary similarity between adoption and guardianship is that the child receives the benefit of a supporting adult. The adult takes over the emotional and financial support of the child, including providing basic necessities, helping with the child’s educational decisions, and providing medical care. The adult involved in the guardianship or adoption has the same basic responsibilities and rights as a biological parent, if only temporarily.

Differences of Adoption and Guardianship

The legal definition of guardianship carries the intention of being temporary in nature. “Temporary” can mean multiple things in this context. The guardianship may last for a few weeks, or it may last until the child reaches adulthood, which is 18 years old in Texas, according to the Texas Family Code Title 5. For a disabled adult, the guardianship could last for decades.

For a minor child, the legal parent may award guardianship to another adult when the parent is unable to provide the necessary care. At some point, the parent may take over care of the child again, and the guardian’s rights would no longer be valid.

On the other hand, the process of adoption terminates the parental rights of the legal or biological parents and awards them to the adults performing the adoption. It is a permanent legal process, rather than temporary. When adoption occurs, the biological or legal parents no longer owe any child support, and they no longer have rights to visitation, although they still could provide support and see the child, depending on the legalities of the adoption process. It would just happen outside the legal realm.

With a guardianship, the legal or biological parent often can choose the guardian for the child. In an adoption, it is rarer that the legal or biological parent will be able to choose the person who adopts the child.

Learning More About Pros and Cons of Guardianship vs. Adoption

Because there are so many things to consider in an adoption, it can be difficult to decide whether adoption or guardianship is the better choice. Our adoption lawyer can help you learn more about which of these two legal processes would be a better fit for your particular situation.

Pros and Cons of Guardianship vs. Power of Attorney

When considering the pros and cons of guardianship vs. power of attorney, it’s important to understand how the two processes work. The power of attorney is a legal document that gives a designated person the legal capability to make decisions for an incapacitated person. The person who has power of attorney is able to make medical, financial, and other decisions for the incapacitated person. This is similar to the types of decisions the guardian will make.

Where these two legal processes differ is in how they become valid. With power of attorney, you will need to have this legal document drawn up before you need it. So, when you are healthy and of sound mind, you can have our team create your power of attorney document. You also can select the person who will have power of attorney. The document only goes into effect when you suffer some sort of injury or disease that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself. When you have a power of attorney document in place, going through the guardianship process is not necessary.

With guardianship, the court will determine the guardian and will determine when the guardianship will become valid (although parents can request that a certain person will serve as the guardian). The guardianship proceedings take longer because they must go through a court hearing, whereas power of attorney becomes valid immediately when you become incapacitated. With guardianship, the ward may retain some control over his or her independence, depending on the ward’s capabilities, according to the Office of the Texas Governor.

Guardianship is more common for children or disabled adults who cannot care for themselves. Power of attorney is more common for healthy adults who suddenly suffer a debilitating accident. Our power of attorney lawyer can help you understand the pros and cons of guardianship vs. power of attorney and answer your questions.

Do You Get Paid for Legal Guardianship?

It is possible for you to get paid for legal guardianship. Most courts allow the guardian to receive a reasonable compensation amount. After all, the guardian must perform quite a bit of work to care for the ward’s various financial, medical, and personal needs.

A standard amount might be 5 percent of the ward’s yearly income, but the actual amount can vary quite a bit. When a ward can perform some care on his or her own, the guardian is likely to receive a lesser amount. In some cases, if the guardian must do extra work or particularly difficult work to care for the ward, the court may award the guardian a greater-than-average amount.

When the guardian also has control of the ward’s financial accounts, this compensation amount can be tricky to track. Guardians also can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses as they care for the ward, such as driving the ward to medical appointments, which may further complicate the compensation award. Guardians need to keep very accurate records of money going into and out of the ward’s accounts, as well as out-of-pocket expenses the guardian has. The court will review all financial records of the ward in an attempt to ensure that the guardian is not stealing money from the ward’s accounts.

Petitioning for Legal Guardianship

Before deciding whether you want to petition for legal guardianship with the help of our guardianship attorney, it is important for you to understand the pros and cons of guardianship. There are plenty of great reasons to serve as a guardian for a child, but there are also some drawbacks. To give you the best ability to serve the needs for the child, you must understand all aspects of this process.

Speak With Our Guardianship Attorney About the Advantages and Disadvantages of Guardianship

If you believe that being named guardian of someone you are caring for is a good idea in your situation, we can help. Contact our team at Amsberry Law Firm to go over your options and to start the process. We have many successful guardianship cases in Texas under our belts, and we would appreciate the chance to help you, too. Call us at (210) 354-2244 today.

Attorney Russell Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry founded the Amsberry Law Firm in 1995 with the goal of providing clients with exceptional, focused representation on their issues. His success as a legal advocate has been reflected in the numerous professional honors he has received, such as speaking engagements and inclusion in Scene in SA magazine’s listing of the best lawyers in San Antonio, a Distinguished rating from Martindale-Hubble, and an amazing rating from Avvo. [ Attorney Bio ]

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Amsberry Law Firm

The Amsberry Law Firm, founded in 1995, has helped thousands of clients overcome their unique legal challenges.

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