Chicago Guardianship Attorneys

Become a Guardian for a Minor Child with Experienced Illinois Guardianship Attorneys

When a child’s biological parents are unavailable or unable to care for their child, guardianship may be a necessary solution. Because choosing to become a child’s guardian is a major life decision, it is important to understand the process and consult with legal counsel.

The family law attorneys at Kogut & Wilson, L.L.C. have extensive experience with guardianship cases. Our team provides tailored assistance to each client’s needs and helps clients navigate the process to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.

Differences Between Adoption vs. Guardianship

There are important distinctions to note between adopting a child and becoming a legal guardian.

  • With adoption, the child’s biological parents’ parental rights are terminated permanently.
  • With guardianship, however, the biological parents’ parental rights are kept intact but the guardian is legally responsible for the care and safety of the child.

Guardians have the right to make all decisions in the life and development of the child until the child is emancipated.

Types of Guardianship

The three types of guardianship are:

  • Short-term
    • Intended for limited time care of one year or less, but can be extended each year
    • Does not involve court filings or orders
    • The biological parent chooses the guardian and there is a written agreement that can be revoked at any time, without court intervention
  • Plenary
    • Intended for long-term, permanent care of a child
    • Guardian remains in place until the child’s emancipation
    • A petition and order need to be filed and entered
    • The guardian’s rights can only be terminated or revoked by judicial determination
  • Standby
    • Intended to provide back-up care in case of the incapacitation or death of the biological parent(s) or current guardian
    • The guardian is designated in writing through a Designation of Standby Guardian form or other estate planning documentation such as a will
    • A petition and order need to be filed and entered
    • The guardianship does not become effective until the incapacitation or death of the biological parent(s) or current guardian

What is the Process to Become a Guardian?

There are several requirements to become a guardian of a child in Illinois. An individual does not have to be related to the child, but must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of the United States
  • Submit to background checks in the form of fingerprinting and review of the Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System
  • Of sound mind

Additionally, potential guardians cannot:

  • Be legally disabled or have been adjudicated disabled as defined by the Probate Act
  • Have a felony conviction involving the harm or threat of a minor

With plenary or standby guardianship, the biological parent(s) must either consent to the guardianship or be adjudicated unwilling or unable to care for the child. If a petition is required, it is highly recommended to speak with legal counsel to ensure it includes all required information.

Becoming a guardian for a minor child comes with careful consideration and understanding of the process. For assistance with this important choice, Kogut & Wilson, L.L.C. is available to provide clarification, guidance and support through every step of the process.

Contact a Chicago guardianship attorney today at (312) 565-4100.