People turn to adoption for a number of reasons. Some believe it is important to give fostered children a home. Others have difficulty conceiving. Still others use adoption to take care of children within their family or circle of friends.
However, adoption is not the only way to provide for minors, and it may not be the best option either. Legal guardianship can enable a non-parent to care for a child without going through the adoption process.
What is Adoption?
Adoption occurs when one or two adults are permanently given the legal authority to raise a child. It creates a life-long commitment. The adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities that were initially placed on the birth parents.
To adopt a child, his or her biological parents’ rights must be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated. Many birth parents voluntarily give up their rights to provide their child with a better life, while others have their parental rights removed by the courts.
Adoption is a legal process, which means prospective parents must petition the court for the right to adopt the child. The judge will always look at the best interests of the child in regard to finalizing the action. Once it is finalized, the biological parents cannot reverse the decision.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship over a minor consists of the court granting a non-parent the right to care for that child, including have him or her live with the guardian. This may be a long-term relationship as it can last until the child turns 18, but it does not create a life-long legal parental relationship.
There are actually three types of guardianship: person, estate, and a combination of both. Guardianship over the person allows the non-parent to care for the child without access to the child’s income or property. A guardianship over the estate is the opposite; the non-parent will manage the child’s property but not make decisions regarding his or her care.
In many situations, a non-parent seeking guardianship over a minor is asking to control both the person and the estate.
Like with an adoption, a prospective guardian must petition the court for the right to care for the child and make decisions regarding his or her custody, education, and health care. Non-parents of the child will only be granted guardianship if:
- The biological parents cannot or are unwilling to take care of the child and give up physical custody;
- The biological parents cannot or are unwilling to take care of the child and fail to appear at the guardianship hearing; or
- The biological parents consent to the guardianship in court or in a notarized document.
However, if a biological parent can show a substantial change in circumstances, he or she may be able to have the guardianship terminated and have the child returned to his or her custody.
The judge will look at the best interests of the child when determining if a guardianship should be established or removed.
Contact Us for Help
Do you have more questions about adoption or guardianship in Illinois? Do not hesitate to contact the dedicated DuPage County family lawyers at Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. for more information. You can reach us today by calling 630-655-7676.