Illinois Courts may appoint a Guardian of the Person or a Guardian of the Estate or both. A Guardianship may be necessary in several instances, including, but not limited to, cases where the parents of the child are not able or willing to provide care for a child or if a person is disabled and unable to care for him/herself. If you are not a natural parent of a child who is currently in your care or if your family circumstances are such that a child to whom you are not the parent will be in your care soon, you need to obtain the Legal Guardianship of the child so you can arrange for education and medical care for that child. Gwendolyn J. Sterk and the Family Law Group can assist clients with guardianship matters in Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, and Illinois communities.
A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the personal and/or property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability. Most countries and states have laws that provide that the parents of a minor child are the legal guardians of that child, and that the parents can designate who shall become the child’s legal guardian in the event of death. Courts generally have the power to appoint a guardian for an individual in need of special protection.
Guardians ad litem (GALs) are not the same as ‘Legal Guardians’ and are often appointed in cases involving under-age-children. The purpose of such an appointment is to represent the interests of the minor children. They are supposed to be the voice of the child’s best interest. Many judges adhere to any recommendation given by a GAL.
In Illinois, an attorney, with training and approval, may be appointed as a guardian ad litem. Guardians ad litem are also appointed in cases where there has been an allegation of child abuse, child neglect, juvenile delinquency, or dependency. In these situations, the guardian ad litem is charged to represent the best interests of the minor child which can differ from the position of the state or government agency as well as the interest of the parent or guardian. Guardians ad litem can also be appointed by the court to represent the interests of mentally ill or disabled persons.
A Guardian ad litem is different than a Child’s Representative or an attorney for a minor child. Each appointment has different roles and responsibilities. It is important to understand these roles individually. Please contact our office for more information regarding the specific circumstances of your case.