What is guardianship?

Guardianship is the legal responsibility of a person to perform duties regarding a child's upbringing and welfare. It also includes the right to make decisions about major areas of the child’s life.

For example, guardians have a duty to properly care for a child. They also have rights that may include decisions on:

  • consent to medical treatment
  • what school the child attends
  • passport applications and taking the child out of the country
  • the child's religious upbringing

Guardianship ends when a child turns 18 years of age unless a guardian dies or is removed as a guardian before that.

Guardianship should not be confused with custody which is about a child's day-to-day care. Nor should it be confused with access which is the legal right of a child and an adult to have contact with one another when they do not live together.