While every child deserves to have loving parents, the unfortunate reality is that many children do not get the love and care they deserve at home. When one or both parents have died or are out of the picture because they are in jail or have lost their parental rights, a court may need to appoint a guardian. If a deceased parent left a will designating someone to be a child’s guardian, a court will usually follow the parent’s wishes. But if the designated guardian is also deceased or is unfit or unwilling to be a guardian, a court may pursue other options.
One potential option is having a child’s older sibling become their guardian. If you live in Illinois and are wondering whether you can become your younger brother or sister’s guardian, read on.
Who Can Become a Legal Guardian?
When a child’s parents are no longer able to care for her, the foster system may seem like the next best option. But the foster system has serious shortcomings and an older sibling may rightly worry whether he would be better equipped to care for the child, rather than entrusting her to a stranger.
While this is certainly understandable, older siblings seeking guardianship must be aware that even with the best intentions, it is not always possible to become a guardian for a younger sibling. The power to make that decision ultimately belongs to a judge, who will check to see whether the following circumstances apply to the would-be guardian:
At least 18 years old
A resident (though not necessarily a citizen) of the U.S.
Of sound mind
Not legally disabled
Not been convicted of a felony (with rare exceptions)
Are You Prepared to Support a Younger Sibling?
While many older siblings may have already been taking care of their younger siblings for many years, caring for a child in your own home is very different than caring for them in your parent’s home. A guardian of a minor is responsible for making sure that child has all of their needs met. This includes making enough money to ensure both you and the minor have food, clothes, a safe place to live, and access to education for the minor. Before a court approves an older sibling’s guardianship of a younger sibling, the judge will want to make sure that guardianship would be appropriate and feasible for both siblings.
Contact a DuPage County Guardianship Attorney
If you are ready to pursue guardianship of your younger sibling, the Naperville guardianship attorneys at Calabrese Associates, P.C. are ready to help. We will work to help you keep your sibling out of a state agency or the custody of someone else. Whatever the circumstances, we are prepared to help you explore your options as you make the right decision for you and your loved one. Call our offices today to schedule a comprehensive consultation at 630-393-3111.