Can you get emergency custody of a grandchild?

Aug 6, 2020 | Family Law

American grandparents have long been pressed into service for informal childcare. Sometimes, however, what starts out as a temporary situation rapidly becomes more permanent.

If you have been keeping your grandchild because their parents were sick or otherwise unable to care for them, what do you do when it looks like their parents won’t be returning anytime soon?

It’s probably time to apply for temporary guardianship. While you can take care of your grandchild’s day-to-day needs without guardianship, not having that legal designation can make it difficult or impossible for you to enroll your grandchild in school, authorize medical care if they get sick and handle other essentials.

Guardianship can also make it possible for you to act on your grandchild’s behalf to file for dependent child’s benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) if one or both of your grandchild’s parents is disabled or deceased. It also automatically makes you the child’s preferred payee for those benefits.

Guardianship may also make it easier for you to obtain other needed benefits for your grandchild, including services through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, food stamps, Medicaid coverage and more.

In Illinois, the application process for guardianship can take a while. The length of time is highly dependent on what notice needs to be given to any living parents, what objections they may file and the availability of the court to handle the case. Even gathering all the necessary paperwork and making sure that all the proper forms are complete can take a while. However, emergency guardianship can be granted over a child the same day an emergency petition is filed.

If you need to obtain guardianship over your grandchild, contact an experienced legal advocate for guidance and support.