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Kevin O'Flaherty

Illinois offers a flexible option for short-term guardianship, allowing non-parents to make care decisions for a child for up to a year with a legally witnessed written agreement. This temporary solution caters to situations like military deployment or illness, requiring consent from both parents under most circumstances. However, it's crucial to consider its suitability, especially for children needing consistent care or those with special needs, indicating the importance of thoughtful decision-making in guardianship arrangements.

Key Takeaways

  • Illinois allows non-parents to make care decisions for a child for up to one year under specific statutes.
  • Written agreement with electronic options, witnessed by two adults, is needed for short-term guardianship, requiring both parents' consent unless in special cases.
  • Intended for temporary situations like military service or illness, but may not suit children needing more stable care.

What is short-term guardianship?

Guardianship is when an individual is appointed by a judge to take care of a child or disabled adult. Typically, only the parent of a child has the authority to make life-altering decisions regarding the care of a child. However, in scenarios when a parent cannot or will not care for his or her child, a second individual can become the legal guardian of the child. This person does not have to be related to the child in any way. Short-term guardianship, therefore, is when an individual is granted the guardianship of a child for a limited period of time – one year or less. A short-term guardianship cannot exceed one year. Only one short-term guardian can be appointed at a time, but there’s no limit to the number of times a short-term guardian can be reappointed by the parents or permanent guardian.

When is a short-term guardianship appropriate?

Reasons for short-term guardianship include a longer vacation, illness, active military duty, travel, and more. Short-term guardians aren’t ideal for children with special needs, as important medical decisions may have to be made over the course of a year. Short-term guardians are best when a parent has to leave the child for an extended period of time. Adults with special needs are treated similar to minors when it comes to short-term guardianship. The guardian should consult with the adult with special needs about an appropriate living situation and consider his or her preference when making that decision.

Who can become a legal guardian in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, a person has to meet the following criteria:

·       Be at least 18 years of age

·       Be a resident of the United States

·       Be sound of mind

·       Not be legally disabled

·       Not have any felony convictions that involve the harm or threat to a child

A person’s blindness cannot, by itself, prevent him or her from becoming a guardian.

What powers does a short-term guardian have?

Short-term guardians are responsible for physical custody of the child. They have to provide the child or disabled adult with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical care. A guardian can also represent the child in legal proceedings and consent to marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, and medical treatment. If the child has assets, like property or money, a short-term guardian will not have control over them. For a guardian to control assets on a child’s behalf, he or she would need to be a plenary guardian. Otherwise, the parents or permanent guardian will continue to have the legal authority to control the child’s assets.

What is a short-term guardianship agreement?

Short-term guardianship agreements should state the exact end date of the guardianship. Guardianships can also be terminated in the occurrence of a specific, identified event, like a parent returning from active military duty earlier than expected. A parent or guardian can end the short-term guardianship at any time, even before the end date included in the written agreement. The written agreement has to be witnessed by at least two people who are at least 18 years old. The person becoming the short-term guardian cannot count as one of the two witnesses.

Interestingly enough, you do not have to go to court to become or appoint a short-term guardian in the state of Illinois, but the agreement does have to be in writing.

How do you appoint a short-term guardian in Illinois?

To appoint a short-term guardian in Illinois, both parents have to agree to the short-term guardianship, unless one parent is deceased, cannot be found, is unwilling or unable to care for the child, or is an unmarried father whose paternity is not proven. Here are three easy, simple steps to appoint a short-term guardianship in Illinois:

1.) Complete the short-term guardianship forms for Illinois, found here. Be sure to make at least three copies of each form.

2.) Ask the other parent to sign the forms. If one parent is appointing the short-term guardian, the other parent has to give his or her content.

3.) Sign the forms with two witnesses over the age of 18. The person becoming the short-term guardian cannot count as one of the two witnesses.

A separate form should be completed for each child. The person becoming the short-term guardian also has to sign the form.

If you are interested in appointing or becoming a short-term guardian of a child or adult with special needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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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