Are you a godparent? Learn about your legal rights over the child

If you have been wondering about your rights as a godparent, then this article explores the secular and legal meaning of godparent.

In addition, I have also listed several legal rights and responsibilities that arise when one decides to become a godparent.

Do godparents have legal rights?

As a godparent, you are not the legal guardians of the child.

Therefore, you have no legal obligations to protect or fend for the child.

Courts do not recognize godparents as guardians or custodians in the event something happens to the parents.

Godparents also have no power under the law to take over as parents in the event the legal parents die or are otherwise unavailable

However, where one wishes to become the legal guardian of the child, you can ask the parent to make you a legal guardian by law.

The law allows a parent to create legal documents such as a Will that provides visitation and custody in the event of the death of one or both parents.

Is a godparent the same thing as a legal guardian?

Godparents are not the same as legal guardians.

A legal guardian has legal rights, while a godparent has no such rights.

The process of becoming a legal ‘godparent’ will need a Judge to assess a guardianship petition.

This petition can be done through a family law attorney.

Once the court grants guardianship, the orders allow for a godparent to become the child’s legal guardian and to serve immediately upon the incapacity or death of the surviving parent instead of the minor becoming a ward of the state.

Guardianship wishes tend to be honored by Courts unless there is a specific reason why the appointed guardian is deemed unfit or the last will and testament provided for another guardian for example a family member.

Of late people are appointing two different guardians. One serves as a guardian of the child while the other is a guardian of the child’s property.

What is the origin of the term godparent?

The concept of a godparent is common in Catholic and Jewish households. It’s an old tradition where godparents would speak for infants during a baptism.

In modern times, godparents act as guides for children in matters of religion or tradition, with some even taking on mentorship roles apart from religion.

Godparents are present in the child’s spiritual and religious journey. They are usually a positive influence on the child based on their experience, sound religious judgment, and superior spiritual intellect.

Nonetheless, this practice is becoming defunct by the day as parents designate secular or social godparents for their children.

Additionally, the catholic church has said that these days the purpose of godparents has lost its spiritual significance which was to serve as religious mentors for children.

In 2021, the Catholic Diocese of Catania had proclaimed a three-year ban on the ancient tradition of naming godparents during baptism.


Godparents have no legal rights over a child.

Therefore, they are not responsible for the affairs of a child.

If you wish to become legally responsible for a child, you can apply to become a legal guardian.

The application to become a legal guardian can be done at the court or through a family law attorney.