In Illinois, guardians are used to provide care and representation to children who are under the age of 18 and do not have (competent) parents, as well as adults who are disabled due to a physical or mental disability. The process for appointing a guardian is complex and should not be initiated without the experience of a qualified attorney.
Guardianship of Minor Children
As explained by the 19th Circuit Court of the State of Illinois, a guardian for a minor child is necessary in the event that the child’s parents are:
- Missing; or
- Unable or unwilling to care for the child.
There are both guardians of the person, who are responsible for the physical care of a child, and guardians of the estate, who are responsible for the management of assets of children who have money or property valued at $10,000 or more.
In order to be a guardian of a child, a petitioner must be at least 18 years of age, must be of sound mind, must be a legal resident, and must not have a criminal background. Further, the applicant must also be able to fulfill the duties of a guardian. Often times, guardians are family members, such as an adult sibling, aunt or uncle, or grandparent of a child.
The process of acquiring guardianship rights over a child begins with filing a petition for guardianship of a minor. Typically, two hearings will then be required.
Guardian Ad Litems
If you are seeking a divorce and have children, you may also hear the term “guardian ad litem ” or GAL. A guardian ad litem and a child guardian are not the same things; while the latter, described above, is assigned the role of providing care to the child or/and managing the child’s assets in the event that parents are not available to do so, a guardian ad litem is used solely to represent the child’s best interest during a divorce case, which includes investigating the facts of the case, interviewing interested parties and parents, and submitting a recommendation about child custody and visitation to the court based on the investigation.
A Word on Guardianship of Adults
Guardianship cases often involve minor children; however, if you have questions about the guardianship of an adult, please feel free to reach out. A guardian may be appointed for an adult when the adult has a disability that prevents him or her from making or communicating decisions about their personal affairs. Again, this process is initiated by filing a petition for guardianship with the Probate Court Clerk.
Call Our Illinois Guardianship Lawyers Today
Understanding the different types of guardians in Illinois can be confusing and overwhelming. For help navigating guardianship laws and understand the different types of guardians recognized in our state, please call our Illinois family law and child lawyers at the office of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. for your initial consultation. We service clients in Lombard, Lisle, Downers Grove, Aurora, Wheaton, and Naperville.