Immigrants fearing detention or deportation may be worried about who will care for their children. One option is to appoint a guardian.
There are 4 types of guardianship for a child:
- Permanent legal guardian;
- Guardian ad litem (GAL);
- Standby guardian; and
- Short-term guardian.
Learn more about the types of guardianship. Below is specific information about how each type can help create a safety plan.
Permanent legal guardian: This is not recommended as a safety plan. In a permanent guardianship, the child lives with the guardian. The child does not live with the parents.
Guardian ad litem (GAL): This is a way for a judge to have someone represent a child in court. It is not available to parents creating a safety plan.
Standby guardian: The court appoints someone who will take over as guardian when a parent can no longer care for the child. This usually happens when a parent gets sick or dies, but it can happen for other reasons as well.
This is a useful safety plan for undocumented immigrants. However, it is important to note that standby guardians must meet the same rules as regular guardians. This means that some courts require the standby guardian to have legal immigration status. Also, a standby guardianship cannot be used to prevent another parent from getting parental responsibilities (custody).
Short-term guardian: This can be done on very short notice. It is an easy and effective safety plan.
- Drawbacks: Although the law requires that health care workers, schools, and all other people treat the short-term guardianship like a court-ordered guardianship, that may not always happen. Short-term guardians may have problems enrolling children in school, getting public benefits, or getting medical care.
Questions about Guardianship? Call the Guardianship Assistance Desk for Minors at (312) 603-0135 or Chicago Volunteer Legal Services at (312) 332-1624.
Updated: November 2017