Previous posts here have discussed how grandparents and other relatives can use a guardianship to get custody over their grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other relatives in need. A guardianship legally gives the guardian the ability to make important decisions on the child’s behalf. While this ordinarily cannot be done when the child has parents who are willing and able to care for them, guardianship is useful when the parent is dealing with physical or emotional problems that make it difficult to rear and raise their own children.
In some cases, grandparents may set up a guardianship knowing the alternative will be for their grandchildren to become wards of the state and likely the need to go to foster care. To set up a guardianship in Illinois, the person who wants to be the child’s guardian needs to file a request in the appropriate court. The person who wants to be a guardian needs to be over 18-years-old and needs to be physically and mentally capable of taking care of the child in question. Moreover, the proposed guardian cannot have a felony conviction that would suggest he or she would be dangerous to the child.
The request will also have to allege, and the proposed guardian will have to demonstrate in court, that the child’s parents are either in agreement with the guardianship or are not able to take of their own child. Courts will ordinarily expect to see a lot of evidence that parents who want to keep responsibility for their child are unable to do so, but situations involving drug abuse or similar issues would likely get a court’s attention in this respect.
Setting up a guardianship can raise complicated family legal issues, especially if one or both parents do not agree to a guardianship. A grandparent or someone else wanting to be a guardian may want to consult with a family law attorney.