In this article, we’ll discuss the visitation rights of disabled adults who have an adult guardianship. We’ll answer the questions, “Can legal guardians stop visitation rights?” and “What are the adult guardianship visitation laws for 2019?” Each state has slightly different procedures for legal guardianships, so be sure to research Illinois law thoroughly.
When an adult is no longer able to make safe, reasonable decisions, an Illinois court can appoint an individual, relative or non-relative, to serve as a legal guardian. This legal relationship removes some or all legal decision-making rights of the incapacitated person, deeming him or her legally unable to provide for his or her own physical, emotional, medical and residential needs. Once an adult is given a legal guardian, he or she does have the right to visit and communicate with the important people in his or her life. For more, check out our article: Illinois Guardianship Explained.
An incapacitated adult who has a legal guardian, oftentimes referred to as a “ward,” does have the right to have contact with his or her parents, children, siblings, and others. This right includes but is not limited to personal visits, verbal or written conversations, email, and texting. In some legal guardianship cases, a ward’s family members or friends may disagree with the legal guardian’s decisions regarding the ward’s care. When tensions and disagreements rise, a guardian may try to block visitation by the ward’s friends and family. Illinois law protects these individuals from unfair visitation limitations.
Effective January 1, 2019, the Adult Guardianship Visitation Act (HB 04687) “expands who may petition a court for visitation of a ward of the state after the ward’s guardian has denied it to include a spouse, adult grandchild, parent or adult sibling.” Prior to this change, only adult children could petition for visitation.
The Illinois Probate Act allows an adult child, spouse, adult grandchild, parent or adult sibling of a ward to petition the court if he or she believes that his or her parent’s legal guardian is unreasonably preventing visitation. If an Illinois court finds visitation to be in the best interests of the ward, it may order the guardian to allow visitation.
Essentially, Illinois court has to decide if the ward, if competent, would have wanted to engage in visitation with the adult child. If the court is unable to determine a stance, the court will review the following factors to determine the ward’s best interests:
On the other hand, it is the legal guardian’s job to protect and assist the disabled adult with important aspects of his or her life, including limiting contact with individuals who only mean the ward harm. Guardians do have the ability to restrict other people’s contact with the protected person in some circumstances, including:
If you are a legal guardian who feels that restricting visitation or contact with a particular person is necessary to the ward’s health and well-being, you’ll need to file papers with the Illinois court to request approval, depending on any of the above reasons. In these documents, you’ll have to provide details on why you believe contact should be limited, set the matter for a court hearing, and notify all required people.
If you are a friend or family member who feels your visitation rights have been violated or unfairly restricted by a legal guardian, you can petition the court for a visitation order. Generally speaking, most courts require the petition to be filed using local forms, meaning the process may be different from county to county. Make sure you’re filing the correct forms. You’ll also have to set the matter for a hearing and notify all required people.
In conclusion, disabled adults have the right to maintain normal relationships with their friends and family members, so long as it is the right decision for his or her health and well-being. Legal guardians of wards cannot simply eliminate or prevent visitation without potential repercussions from Illinois court. Anyone who is denied visitation by a guardian should seek the advice of counsel to determine whether a petition to allow visitation is necessary.