Illinois Grandparents Obtaining Guardianship of Grandchildren
In a perfect world, children would be raised by their parents. But today, an increasing number of parents are unable to care for their children. In Illinois, 101,951 children under the age of 18 are being raised solely by their grandparents. Whether due to the death of both parents, substance abuse, mental illness, neglect and abandonment or other reasons, an increasing number of grandparents are turning to the Courts to be formally appointed guardians of their grandchildren. Types of Grandparent Guardianship of Grandchildren in Illinois
There are two types of minor guardianships in Illinois - guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. You may petition the Court for appointment as one or both of these guardians. There is no requirement that you serve in both capacities.
Guardianship of the person puts you in charge of your grandchildren’s physical needs. As guardian, you will have the same responsibilities as a parent. You will be responsible for your grandchildren’s daily care and have the power to make all decisions regarding that care, including:
- Where they will attend school,
- Where they will live and
- All medical decisions.
Guardianship of the estate puts you in charge only of your grandchildren’s assets, if they have any (for example, if the parents died and left an inheritance. As guardian of the estate you are responsible for all financial decisions regarding your grandchildren’s estate, including:
- Managing the assets,
- Making investments as appropriate, and
- Distributing assets for the grandchildren’s care, as necessary.
As guardian of the estate you are also responsible for creating an inventory of your grandchildren’s assets and providing an annual accounting to the Court, the guardian of the person and the grandchildren (if over age 14) showing how you have managed the assets. How to Obtain Grandparent Guardianship in Illinois Whether your grandchildren’s parents nominated you to serve as guardian in their will, relinquished control of the grandchildren to you or are otherwise unfit or unable to care for the children, you must file a guardianship petition in Court. The petition must:
- Identify the children and their closest living relatives (parents and adult siblings, grandparents if no parents or adult siblings, and on down the line);
- List any assets the children own; and
- State the reasons why you are seeking guardianship.
A copy of the petition must be sent to the children (if over the age of 14); their parents and any adult siblings. The Court must consider whether the guardianship placement is in the child’s best interests, the same standard used in child custody cases. The law presumes that the child’s best placement is with his parent, so you have the burden of proving that the parent is unfit and that placement with you is in your grandchildren’s best interests if the parent objects to the petition or has not already relinquished control of the children to you. The Judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to assist with making a determination of whether placement with you is in the child’s best interest. The GAL may interview you, the children (if old enough), the parents, siblings, friends, family members and any other individual who may have information that could help the Court make a determination. The GAL will submit a final report to the Court upon completion of her investigation, on which the Judge will rely heavily when making a decision. A guardianship is effective until the child turns 18 or it is changed by the Court, whichever happens first. Experienced Palatine Guardianship Attorney If you want to become the formal guardian for your grandchildren, you need an experienced, compassionate guardianship attorney who understands the process and can help you prove to the Court why you are the best individual to raise your grandchildren. Serving Chicago’s northwest suburbs, including Palatine, Rolling Hills, and Arlington Heights, the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., can help. Contact me today to get the ball rolling and bring some stability back to your grandchildren’s life.