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Learn about the difference between guardians and caregivers

Find out what kinds of decisions guardians and caregivers can make for minors.

Caregivers

You should consider naming a caregiver for a child if:

  • Your child is living with someone other than a parent
  • You want that person to be able to make medical and educational decisions for the child

This process doesn't take away any of the parent’s rights to make decisions, but allows the caregiver to make educational and medical decisions without talking to the parent first. This is a much simpler process than guardianship, and no forms need to be filed in court. The permission is good for up to 2 years. 

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Guardians

A guardian is a person chosen to make all decisions for a child, just like a parent would. You can request to be appointed as a guardian for a child if:

  • You're caring for a child and need to make more than just educational and medical decisions for them
  • The child’s parents are unable or unavailable to care for them

A guardian is different from a caregiver because when a child has a caregiver, either the caregiver or the parent can make decisions for the child. When a child has a guardian, only the guardian, not the parent, can make decisions. If the parents don't agree to the guardianship, you can only become guardian if the court decides that the parents are unfit to care for the child.

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