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The distinction between child custody and guardianship

Under Illinois law, anyone under the age of 18 years old is considered a minor. As a result, an adult is required to manage the affairs of the child. Examples of this include deciding where the child lives, attends school, receives medical treatment, etc.

Typically, such responsibilities fall on the parents. However, there are circumstances where another person takes on this role through guardianship.

Custody of a child

Parents are the natural custodians of their children. Consequently, they are legally responsible for them until they become adults. In the scenario where parents have separated, it is up to the court to determine who has custody.

Custody falls into two parts: legal and physical. Legal custody is generally shared by both parents. This means that both parents have legal authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf. Physical custody relates to with whom the child spends their time.

Guardianship of a child

Guardianship is where someone else takes on the role of parents who are incapable of looking after their child. There are many reasons why this might happen, such as bereavement, addiction, incarceration or serious health issues.

Guardianship means more than simply handing over physical custody to someone else, it must be conferred by a judicial decree. It is common for temporary custody to be handed over to close family members, but this alone does not give them legal authority of the child.

Understanding child custody and guardianship 

Understanding child custody and guardianship law can be challenging. However, it is a crucial endeavor. Children need to be taken care of, as well as having their legal affairs managed responsibly until they reach adulthood.