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How to Terminate Guardianship of a Minor and Regain Parental Rights in Illinois

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we discuss how to terminate guardianship of a minor and regain parental rights in Illinois.  We will answer questions, “can a parent regain guardianship?”, “how do you terminate guardianship?”, and “what if the guardian doesn’t want to relinquish guardianship of the child?”.

Can a Parent Regain Guardianship of a Minor in Illinois?

Yes.  It is possible to regain guardianship that was once deemed necessary by the court, as long as the parent(s) can provide evidence that the issue that stripped them of parental rights has been resolved.

How Do You Terminate Guardianship?

In order for a parent to regain guardianship, there must be a substantial change in circumstances and supporting evidence to demonstrate that it is in the child’s best interest to return to the care of the biological parent(s).  For example, if the child was removed from custody of the parents because of a substance abuse problem, the parents can file a “Petition to Discharge Guardianship of a Minor” to regain primary care of the child if they can prove that their abuse issues have been resolved.  After you file the petition, you must appear in court and present your case to a judge.  Typically, to successfully terminate guardianship, the parents must show:

  • They can provide the child with a stable place to live;
  • They can provide a good home for the child;
  • They have a source of income that can provide support for the child;
  • They are “fit” to resume care-giving responsibility for the child.  In some cases, fitness might mean that the parent(s) have successfully completed rehabilitation; and
  • If the guardianship is contested, the parent may have to provide evidence that the guardian is unfit to perform his or her obligations.  Examples include evidence that the guardian has: misused the child’s funds, was abusive, or can no longer act as guardian due to drug/alcohol abuse or incapacitated.

The most important thing to remember is that the parent(s) need to present enough evidence to prove to the judge that all of the issues resulting in the removal of the minor from the parent’s care are no longer an issue.  The parents may also need to provide evidence that the child’s current guardian is no longer fit to take care of the child.  For more information, check out our article entitled How to Remove a Guardian in Illinois.

What if the Guardian Doesn’t Want to Relinquish Guardianship of the Child?

If the guardian contests his or her removal as guardian of the child, it may take more than evidence of the parents’ rehabilitation to regain guardianship.  When guardianship is contested, both the parent(s) and the guardian will need to attend a hearing and present evidence supporting their claim to be the best guardian for the child.  Some of the details the court looks at to determine if guardianship should be returned are:

  • The parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child;
  • The current interaction and relationship the minor has with the parents and other members of the household;
  • The relative stability of the guardian, the parents, and the minor;
  • The amount of time the minor has lived with his or her parents and the guardian;
  • How the minor has adjusted to his or her home, school and the guardian, and;
  • The nature and extent of the parent’s visitation with the minor during the guardianship, and also the guardian’s willingness and ability to facilitate visitation

The state of Illinois recognizes and believes that spending as much time as possible with each parent is in the best interest of the child.  That being said, priority is given to ensuring the child is in a safe and supportive environment, so selecting an appropriate guardian is not taken lightly.  Ultimately, only a judge can decide who will be the legal guardian of the child once guardianship has been taken away from the biological parents.  The more evidence you present to the judge to support your claim to be the best guardian for the child, the more likely you are to succeed.

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Can a Parent Regain Guardianship of a Minor in Illinois?

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