What Is a Legal Godparent?

A legal godparent is a godparent who has also been named as the legal guardian in a will in the event of the deaths of parents before a child or children reach legal age. Naming a godparent as a legal guardian in a will is necessary because godparents are recognized only by the church for purposes of faith and have no legal rights in the custody of god children.

According to Catholic tradition, when a child is born, parents select another Catholic who has been baptized to assist them in training their children in the Catholic faith. The godparent is generally someone who is close to the family and sometimes even a family member. In the past, when religion played a much larger role in government, it was understood that if something happened to a child before he or she was of age, the godparent would assume responsibility for the child. In current times, however, the church plays a much smaller role in government. In the United States, specifically, there is a Constitutional separation of church and state. Godparents, therefore, are not recognized in legal matters concerning children. In order to give a godparent legal status, the godparent must also be named a guardian.