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Differences between obtaining custody and guardianship of a child

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2021 | Estate Planning

Pennsylvania courts are very concerned about the welfare of children whenever they are part of any legal situation, and this especially applies when a custody issue hangs in the balance. The courts take their role as child advocates very seriously. Judges weigh all information provided, and they will ask for more in some cases when making a custody or guardianship decision because the ruling can impact the remainder of the child’s life if the wrong person is given custody. Physical well-being and a safe living environment are not the only issues factoring into a custody order; emotional and mental health are easily just as important to consider when assigning guardianship or custody.


Guardianship is often assigned in temporary situations when a biological parent is incapable of caring for their child for any particular reason. The authorization can also be divided with one party having legal guardianship regarding medical decisions and other matters while someone else maintains physical control. Guardians can also be designated when trusts are established to provide for the maintenance of the ward.


Custody can be a much different designation than a guardianship assignment as custody issues are usually decided by the Pennsylvania court system in a divorce proceeding. There can be many considerations when this is being determined, including evaluation of any divorce mediation agreement. Custody arrangements typically include accommodations for financial support for all dependent children, ranging from payroll deductions for the non-custodial parent to establishing trusts to serve as a payment conduit.

Regardless of the type of custody arrangement, it is important to remember that the court will consider the interests of the child first. Requests from parents are always thoroughly vetted by the court for ensuring proper assignment of either guardianship or custody. Being prepared for any potential outcome is essential.

To learn more, visit our Guardianship page.

To speak with a family law attorney about setting up a guardianship, use our Fast Pass link to schedule a consultation and be contacted within one business day.