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What Is the Difference Between Adoption and Guardianship in Illinois?

 Posted on September 16, 2020 in Adoption

Lombard, IL family law attorney adoption

When a child’s biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for him or her, it is important to make other arrangements to provide for the child’s basic needs and well-being. In some cases, it is necessary for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to become a child’s legal guardian, at least for a time. However, most children benefit from a more permanent arrangement in a home with parents or guardians who love and care for them. Depending on the situation, this can be accomplished through adoption or guardianship, and there are some important differences between the two that you should understand if you are looking to become a child’s legal guardian.

Adoption Versus Guardianship in Illinois

Guardianship and adoption arrangements can both be made directly with the child’s biological parents or through DCFS. In both adoptions and guardianships, the parent or guardian assumes the responsibility to care for the child and provide for basic needs, and may assume the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, including education, medical treatment, and use of assets, provided that these decisions are in the child’s best interest. However, adoption and guardianship are different in a few key ways.

In adoption, you become the child’s legal parents and assume all of the rights and responsibilities that biological parents have. In addition to caring for the child through his or her 18th birthday and making important decisions regarding his or her well-being, you establish a legal relationship with the child for the rest of your lives. This means that the child has a legal right to inheritance even if you die without a will, and the child also has the right to survivor’s benefits for your pension or Social Security. However, in order to legally adopt a child, the biological parents must have their parental rights terminated, either voluntarily or by court order.

In a guardianship, the child’s biological parents do not have to terminate their parental rights. Legal guardianship can last through the child’s 18th birthday if the biological parents are unable to resume care before that time, but it can also be temporary if the birth parents are unable to care for the child for a limited time, perhaps due to a health problem or a jail sentence. Your legal relationship with the child lasts only through the period of guardianship, meaning that if you wish to provide for the child through an inheritance, you will need to specify this in your will.

Contact a Lombard, IL Family Law Attorney

Adopting a child or becoming his or her legal guardian can be a very rewarding experience for everyone involved. At A. Traub & Associates, we are committed to helping you provide a stable, loving home for a child. We can work with you to determine whether adoption or guardianship is possible and to follow the necessary legal procedures to make it happen. Contact a DuPage County family law attorney today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a private consultation and learn more about what we can do for you.




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