There are many different family situations in Illinois. In many instances, the parent of a child is not the one actually caring for the child for one reason or another. Many times this responsibility falls on the grandparents or another family member such as an uncle or aunt. However, just because the child is living with the other family member, the situation does not give that family member parental rights. These situations may involve various family law issues and those involved can benefit from utilizing an attorney.
This means that the caregiver cannot make important decisions regarding medical issues or school. People in this position do have a way to gain these rights through a guardianship, though. In order to be appointed a guardian of a child, the person must be at least 18 years old, a citizen of the United States, be of sound mind and not be adjudicated disabled. The person also must not have committed a felony against a child. Other felonies will disqualify a person as well, but if it did not involve harming a child, the court could still appoint that person depending on the specific circumstances.
The person seeking guardianship of a minor child must file a petition with the court. The court then must make certain findings in order to appoint the person. If the child has a living parent who is willing and able to care for the child, the court cannot appoint a guardian, unless certain criteria are met. These include the parent giving up voluntarily physical control of the child, failing to object to the petition after receiving proper notice, or consenting to the guardianship in writing or in open court. If those criteria are met even if the child has a living parent, the court can appoint a guardian.
Many local children are cared for by someone other than their natural mother or father. In these cases, though, the person actually caring for the child doesn’t automatically have legal custody and may not have any legal rights to make decisions for the child. In order to do so, they may need to obtain guardianship of the child. Experienced family law attorneys understand the law and may be able to help one gain the rights they need.
Source: Illinois General Assembly, “755 ILCS 5/11-3,” accessed Aug. 18, 2015