Guardianship for Adults and Children in Illinois
Obtaining legal authority to care for those who cannot care for themselves
Becoming someone’s guardian is a big responsibility and can be an emotionally complicated step for you as a family member to take. As challenging as it may be, however, it is better than watching your loved one continue to mishandle and damage his or her life. At Downs Law Offices, our guardianship lawyers are sensitive the difficulties of becoming a guardian. We can review the situation to determine if establishing a legal guardianship in Chicago is actually necessary and, if so, can help you through the process with compassion and attention to your needs and concerns.
When is guardianship appropriate?
Establishing a legal guardianship may be appropriate and necessary to protect your loved one under several circumstances:
- For adult relatives - Elderly relatives who are beginning to lose their mental faculties often need guardianship. If you have an adult relative no longer able to handle his or her affairs who has not executed a power of attorney, establishing a legal guardianship in court may be your only option for gaining the authority you need to manage those affairs.
- For your adult child - A child who turns 18 is presumed by law to be capable of handling his or her affairs. If, however, your adult child is seriously mismanaging his or her life because of mental illness or addiction, establishing a guardianship may be necessary.
- For other relative minor children - When a parent is no longer able to adequately care for his or her child - for example because of mental illness, physical disability, hospitalization or incarceration - establishing legal guardianship is one of the options relatives have for ensuring that child receives proper care. A parent can consent to short-term guardianship without the need for court intervention. Long-term guardianship or guardianship against the parents’ wishes, however, usually requires a court proceeding.
- For those involved in litigation - When a minor child or an incapacitated person is involved in a legal matter, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to safeguard his or her interests during the course of litigation. This type of guardianship is limited to the subject matter of the litigation and does not extend to other aspects of the ward’s life. This form of guardianship occurs most often in child custody and other domestic proceedings.
The guardianship process
Illinois law takes guardianship very seriously. A court proceeding is usually required, during which you and your family attorney must show that the circumstances warrant establishing legal guardianship. For an adult, you often need to present a doctor’s report that the proposed ward is unable to care for himself or herself as well as testimony from a witness who is aware of the proposed ward’s condition. For a case involving a child, you need to show why the parent or parents are unable to care for the child, especially if one or both parents object.
Seeking a guardianship is an extreme step that should only be taken if absolutely necessary. If you are concerned about your loved one’s ability to manage his or her affairs, we can help you examine your options to determine whether setting up a legal guardianship is the best course of action. If so, our guardianship lawyers can then help you work through the necessary court process.
Helping you care for your loved ones
Call Downs Law Offices today at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to set up a confidential consultation to discuss your situation with one of our guardianship attorneys. We are centrally located on Chicago’s Loop, convenient to parking and public transportation.