Guardianships of Minor Children

When a child loses his or her parents, or his or her parents cannot care for him or her, a guardian may be necessary. Guardians are similar to parents in various ways, yet dissimilar in others. Therefore, it is important to understand exactly what you are getting into with guardianship.

Types of Guardianship

There are four primary types of guardianship involving children in Illinois. These include:

  • Permanent legal guardian: These guardians are responsible for feeding, clothing, housing, and educating the child;
  • Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): These guardians are appointed by a judge to investigate the facts of a case. These guardians are often appointed when there have been allegations of abuse or neglect, but they may also be appointed in divorce cases;
  • Standby guardian: A standby guardian is a person who a parent or guardian names as the person who they want to care for their children if they die or become incapacitated; and
  • Short-term guardian: This is a guardian who is appointed by a parent to care for his or her child for 365 days or less.

Illinois Law Governing Guardianship of Minors

Guardianship of minors is governed by Illinois statute. A person can act as a guardian if he or she is found by a court to be capable of providing an active and suitable program of guardianship for the minor, and:

  • The proposed guardian is at least 18 years old;
  • The proposed guardian is a resident of the United States;
  • The proposed guardian is not of unsound mind;
  • The proposed guardian is not adjudged a disabled person; and
  • The proposed guardian either has not been convicted of a felony or, despite being convicted of a felony, meets other strict qualifications.

The appointment of a standby guardian is also governed by state statute. The law requires that the parents and the standby guardian fill out specific paperwork for this process. Signing the paperwork alone is not enough for the guardian to be appointed—a petition must still be filed with the court.

Short-term guardians may be appointed by parents rather than by the court. The short-term guardian must be appointed by the parent in writing. The document must be dated and must identify the parent, the child, and the short-term guardian. It must be signed by the parent in the presence of two credible witnesses who are at least 18 years old, neither of whom can be the short-term guardian. The short-term guardian should also sign the document, but does not have to do so at the same time as the parent. A parent cannot appoint a short-term guardian if the child has another living parent whose rights have not been terminated, whose whereabouts are known, and who is willing to care for the child.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

If you are considering taking on the guardianship of a minor child, there are many factors you must consider. You need to understand all of the rights and responsibilities that will come with guardianship. You will need the help of an Illinois family law attorney like the lawyers at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. We can walk you through the entire process and answer all of your questions. Call us today at (630) 756-5112.