Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.
A legal guardianship is a relationship established by the court where one person acts for the benefit and protection of another person. A person receiving the services of a legal guardian is called a “ward.” The ward is usually a child or minor whose parents are no longer capable of raising them, usually due to death or incapacity. Persons with mental or physical handicaps may also be appointed a legal guardian.
There are several different types of legal guardianships, such as temporary guardianships, emergency guardianships, and adult guardianships. However, in a family law context, guardianship almost always refers to non-parental parties who assume legal responsibility for a child.