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Top Questions About Child Guardianships in Illinois

 Posted on November 04, 2021 in Family Law

Cook County Family Law AttorneyChildren need adults to keep them safe and help them grow up to be happy and healthy. Typically, a child’s parents are the primary caregivers in a child’s life. However, modern families come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a child’s grandparent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, or another responsible adult takes on the primary caregiver role. Legal guardianship allows a person other than a child’s parent to assume responsibility for child-related decisions and caretaking.

What Is A Guardian of a Minor Child?

As a non-parent, you may occasionally babysit a child, help make decisions about the child’s education, or assume roles typically assigned to parents. However, being an informal caretaker and a legal guardian are very different things. When you become a child’s legal guardian, you assume certain legal rights and responsibilities not expected of non-guardians.

There are several different types of guardianship in Illinois. If you are the “guardian of the person,” you assume responsibility for major decisions in the child’s life, including where he or she will go to school or what types of medical care the child will receive. “Guardian of the estate” allows you to manage the child’s financial assets. Sometimes, one person will act as both the guardian of the person and guardian of the estate.

Who Can Be a Child’s Guardian?

Often, a grandparent or other close relative becomes a child’s guardian. However, you do not have to be related to a child to be his or her guardian. To be a child’s guardian in Illinois, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Be a U.S. resident (in most cases)

  • Be of sound mind

  • Not be legally disabled (with certain exceptions)

  • Not have a felony conviction for a crime against a child

When is Guardianship of a Child Appropriate?

Illinois courts try to keep children with their parents whenever possible. However, there are some situations in which parents cannot fulfill their parenting duties. Guardianship of a minor child may be necessary for situations such as:

  • The child’s parents are in prison.

  • The child’s parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol and unable to make sound decisions about the child.

  • The child’s parents are unable to care for the child due to mental or physical disabilities. 

  • The child’s parents have passed away.

  • The child’s parents abandoned him or her.

How Does Guardianship Differ from Adoption?

Many people think that being a child’s legal guardian is the same as adopting the child. However, legal guardianships differ from adoption in several ways. First of all, guardianship is usually a temporary measure. Secondly, parents do not have to surrender their parental rights in order for someone else to be named as the child’s guardian. Adoption requires the parents’ parental rights to be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Contact a Cook County Guardianship Lawyer

If you are interested in becoming a legal guardian, contact The Law Office of George J. Skuros for help. Chicago family law attorney George J. Skuros has over 30 years of family law experience and can help you with all of your family law needs. Call 312-884-1222 for a confidential consultation. 




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