Most parents are willing and able to care for their children to the best of their ability. However, as your family may know first-hand, this does not always happen. There are times when a parent is physically absent or mentally incapable of caring for his or her children, which may leave a minor child without care, support and guidance.
The law allows for other individuals to step in and help a minor who is not receiving care from his or her parents. This is guardianship, and it allows another adult to care for the physical and financial well-being of a child, typically until he or she reaches the age of 18. If there is a minor in your family who needs help, you may want to learn more about what guardianship means and how you can seek this designation.
What does a guardian do?
A guardian has a very specific and important responsibility for a child. The guardian will be responsible for managing finances on behalf of a child, making sure he or she has a safe environment and making other decisions with the best interests of the child in mind. Some of the specific things you will have to do if you are guardian of a child include the following:
- Make sure the child has a place to live and is safe
- Ensure the child is in school and is having his or her educational needs met
- Provide food for the child or ensure he or she has access to food
- Make certain the child has appropriate medical care
Guardianship of a child is different from adoption, as a guardianship does not legally sever the relationship the child has with his or her parents. You may want to consider seeking guardianship if you have a minor family member who is living in your home for any reason and will likely remain in your care for an extended period of time.
Caring for your loved ones
Guardianship is often appropriate in situations when a child loses one or both parents for reasons that include death, incarceration or addiction. This is a smart way for your family to care for family members in need. The court generally prefers for a guardian to be a family member or a person known to and familiar with the child.
If you think this is the best step for your Illinois family, you may want to start by seeking a complete evaluation of your case and assessment of the legal options available to you.