For many reasons, grandparents often have to step in to care for their grandchildren. Oftentimes family members have informal relationships to help care for children while their parents are ill, away or otherwise unable to take care of them. Unfortunately, having physical custody of a grandchild does not give grandparents the legal authority to make decisions on their grandchild’s behalf. In August, Carol Burnett announced that she and her husband became the legal temporary guardians to their 14-year-old grandson.
“Due to addiction issues and other circumstances that my daughter, Erin, has been struggling with impacting her immediate family dynamic, my husband and I have petitioned the court to be appointed legal guardian of my 14-year-old grandson,” Burnett said in a statement. “Guardianship will be for oversight purposes concerning his health, education and welfare and not intended to deny him nor the parents proper visitation with one another. We look forward to recovery being the next stepping stone towards normalization and ask for privacy at this time to allow that process to occur.”
If something serious were to happen to the child, such as a medical issue or even signing school documents, grandparents do not have the legal right to make those decisions unless they have been made the child’s legal guardian.
If a child’s parents are absent or unable or unwilling to provide appropriate care for an extended period of time, the child’s grandparents can file for legal temporary guardianship. If the parents voluntarily consent to grandparent guardianship, the process will be very smooth. If the parent is absent, or unwilling to relinquish guardianship, a guardianship attorney can help you protect the rights and best interests of your grandchild.
The court or the child’s parent can name the guardian, but to be designated to take care of a child, the grandparents must meet specific standards to prevent the child from ending up in an unstable or abusive environment. Anyone considering becoming a guardian in Illinois must be:
Individuals with some disabilities may assume guardianship of a child. For example, a blind grandparent could assume guardianship of a minor, as well as a grandparent in a wheelchair.
Assuming guardianship of a grandchild can be a good option if it is done legally. If you do not attend court or put your agreement with a parent in writing, the court will likely not honor your guardianship. For this reason, you should speak with an experienced guardianship attorney so you can protect your grandchild.
If you are a grandparent who wants legal guardianship to take care of your minor grandchild, contact the experienced guardianship attorneys at Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-687-9100. We provide legal services in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.