Guardianships are a way for individuals to protect young children or elderly adults. Often they are established as part of estate planning for the future, or in cases where one or both parents are not stable enough to care for a child. In these situations, family law courts may temporarily appoint a guardian for the child until the parental situation improves or the child is grown.
Guardians are also used to make decisions about a disabled adult’s health, finances, and living arrangements. Disabled adult guardianships are typically limited in scope and duration so that the ward is allowed to make decisions for themselves as much as possible. The legal process for obtaining an adult guardianship requires a petition to be filed with the court. The alleged disabled person, or respondent, must be served with the petition and provided an opportunity to be represented by his/her own attorney at a hearing where he/she can present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. A court-appointed lawyer or lay person, known as a guardian ad litem, is also appointed to represent the interests of the respondent at the hearing and interview him/her about his/her abilities to function, medical condition, and current living arrangements.
A guardian has many responsibilities and is expected to be honest, fair, and respectful when making decisions for their wards. If he/she does not act in this manner, they may be subject to removal from the guardianship or have their status changed by the court.
It is important to have open and honest conversations with family members about their wishes regarding the future of loved ones. Having these conversations early in life can prevent the need for a guardianship. Our attorneys can help families understand the rights and responsibilities that are involved in guardianship proceedings.
When it is time to consider guardianship, we can assist with the preparation of the required paperwork and representation at a hearing. In addition, we can provide information on alternative methods of providing for the needs of an elderly or disabled loved one such as setting up a special needs trust.
In most cases, legal guardianship of minor children is granted by the court to a parent or other individual who has demonstrated a level of stability and competence in meeting the child’s basic safety, welfare, financial, and medical needs. In some cases, a guardian is appointed when the parents are not able to meet their child’s needs for long-term care or have failed to do so despite repeated attempts by the court to work with them.
Contact Davis & Associates to schedule a consultation with our Chicago Guardianship Attorney. We serve clients throughout the entire state of Illinois. We offer free initial consultations. Call us today or use our online form to request your appointment. We look forward to helping you and your family.