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Heather Jones

If you’re exploring how to get guardianship of a child without going to court in Illinois, understanding your legal options is crucial. Illinois law accommodates certain forms of guardianship that bypass the courtroom, such as temporary guardianship by mutual consent and standby guardianship. Our article provides a clear roadmap of these legal alternatives, detailing the procedures, requirements, and the importance of ensuring the child’s protection during the process. Establishing guardianship involves filing a petition with a physician’s report, a court hearing to present evidence, the court assigning authority levels, and annual report submissions by the guardian. Read on to learn more about getting temporary or short-term guardianship of a minor in Illinois.  

woman hugging children after getting temporary guardianship

Understanding Illinois Guardianship Law

The legal concept of guardianship in Illinois is a provision that allows an individual who isn’t a parent to make important decisions pertaining to a minor’s:

  • protection
  • education
  • care
  • discipline
  • health

This can extend to personal care or property management, depending on the type of guardianship involved.

The process of establishing guardianship often includes the following steps:

  1. An ‘interested person’ files a petition, backed by a physician’s report.
  2. A court hearing is held where evidence is presented and representation rights are upheld.
  3. The court decides the degree of authority assigned to the guardian.
  4. The guardian may be required to submit annual reports to the court for estate guardians.


What is Temporary or Short-Term Guardianship?


Illinois recognizes three types of guardianship. Short-term or temporary guardianship, plenary guardianship, and standby guardianship.  


Plenary guardianship is the term used for a “permanent” or, more accurately, a “long-term” guardianship. In a plenary guardianship, the guardian is appointed for the child and/or the child’s estate. The guardianship will most likely not be permanent and will end when the child reaches their majority. In some circumstances, an adult with disabilities will need to have permanent guardianship in order to ensure their safety and well-being.  


Standby guardianship is when the child’s parent is sick with a long-term or fatal illness. A parent can designate a standby guardian with the proposed guardian’s consent. If necessary, the standby guardian can exercise guardianship over the child or children for up to 60 days. Before the 60 days expire, the standby guardian must petition the court for something more permanent, like plenary guardianship.  


A short-term or temporary guardianship is the focus of this article. This guardianship is also sometimes referred to as “temporary guardianship.” This guardianship can last no longer than 365 days; in other words, it can last for one year. It is not expected to be a permanent situation. Furthermore, it is unnecessary to go to court to obtain short-term guardianship.  If you are looking for more information on permanent guardianship in Illinois read our article, Your Ultimate Guide to Illinois Guardianship.



Who Qualifies for the Role of Temporary Guardian of a Child?


You must be 18 years of age. You should be a resident of the United States, although the court will make exceptions in certain circumstances. You cannot have a felony conviction on your record. You must be of sound mind. You cannot be legally disabled. You do not have to be a relative of the child or children in order to become their short-term guardian.  


How Do I Get Short-Term Guardianship of a Child?


To understand how to get short-term guardianship of a child, you must first understand that it is not a permanent court order. You do not need to file in court to get short-term guardianship in Illinois. The parents of the child or children will have to sign off on the guardianship. This type of guardianship is intended for people who might have a longer-term period of care for the child or children, but the intent is not that it becomes permanent. Here are some examples of when a short-term guardianship might be necessary:  

  • A parent has to leave on active military duty  
  • One or both parents are taking some other kind of extended trip and want to leave the kids with the grandparents, who may need legal authority to enroll in school or obtain healthcare for the kids  
  • A parent is too sick at the time to care for the kids  
  • Parent or parents have been arrested and must serve time in jail  



There can only be one short-term guardian at a time. Their parties do not have to go to court for the guardianship to be effective, but there must be an agreement in writing for the short-term guardianship to be legitimate.  

what you need for short term guardianship to be valid

It is important to note that the Illinois courts will not recognize a short-term guardianship executed by one parent when there is another parent who has not had their parental rights terminated and who is willing to care for the child or children during whatever period of time the other parent will be unable to do so.  


The parents can revoke the guardianship at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. The parent can communicate the revocation of the short-term guardianship in any manner; it does not have to be in writing to be effective. The granting parent can also amend the short-term guardianship, which means the parent can make changes to the short-term guardianship agreement.  


What is the Difference Between Guardianship of a Person, Estate, or of Both Person and Estate?


It is essential to point out that you can have guardianship over a person, their estate, or both. Guardianship over a person means that you have a say in what they do daily, where they live, where they go to school, and how they otherwise spend their time. A person’s guardian has broad discretionary powers regarding what their ward does. Guardianship of the estate is when you have a custodial position over their finances. A guardian of the estate will monitor and manage the ward’s assets but cannot or should not access or control them. A guardian of the estate will be expected to keep accurate records and explain any money spent from the estate, otherwise known as accounting. A great deal of the time, there is guardianship over the person and their estate, where the guardian exercises complete control over the safety and well-being of both the person and their money. While this is something a short-term guardian might not consider, in the event the guardianship becomes permanent, it is something to keep in mind.  


Navigating the guardianship laws of Illinois can be a complex task. However, with the right understanding of the different types of guardianship, the role of a guardian, and the legal implications of guardianship agreements, it is possible to secure the best possible care for a child without resorting to a courtroom. Whether you choose temporary or permanent guardianship, it’s essential to consider the child’s needs and the potential for the parent to resume caregiving responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to file a petition for guardianship in Illinois?

Filing a petition for guardianship in Illinois can cost between $1,500 to $3,500 in attorneys' fees, and court costs can exceed $1,000, with additional filing fees ranging from $50 to $105, and sheriff's fees of $23 plus mileage.

How long does it take to get guardianship in Illinois?

It usually takes 14 days to two months to get a decision on guardianship in Illinois, once the case is filed. The appointment of a temporary guardian does not determine the appointment of a permanent guardian.

What is the difference between temporary and permanent guardianship in Illinois?

In Illinois, temporary guardianship is a short-term arrangement lasting up to 60 days, while permanent guardianship is a long-term commitment requiring judicial action and is sought for long-term concerns for a child's welfare.

Can a parent revoke temporary guardianship at any time in Illinois?

Yes, parents in Illinois have the right to revoke or amend short-term guardianship at any time without needing a written revocation.

What are the criteria for choosing a temporary guardian in Illinois?

When choosing a temporary guardian in Illinois, ensure they are at least 18 years old, a U.S. resident, have no felony convictions involving harm or threat to a child, and they do not have to be related to the child. Take these criteria into consideration for the best choice.


If you are considering short-term guardianship or want more information about your options, feel free to give O’Flaherty Law a call, we would be happy to help.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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