People become legal guardians by meeting several basic requirements, including being at least 18 years old, of sound mind, a United States resident and having no felonies or disabilities, as noted by Illinois Legal Aid. People can assume the role of a guardian in several capacities. They act as short-term or long-term caregivers, depending on the circumstances warranting guardianship.
In addition to meeting basic requirements for guardianship, potential guardians go through formal court proceedings to obtain the status of adoptive parents. Guardians act as permanent legal guardians, guardians ad litem, standby guardians and short-term guardians.
Permanent legal guardians assume the most responsibility for children's care, and for the longest period of time. To obtain status as permanent legal guardians, people submit formal court papers and appear before a court judge, who evaluates cases and the hopeful guardian's credentials.
The guardian ad litem proposes opinions to judges on the best candidates for children's care in the event parents can no longer provide child support. Judges in turn consider their opinions when determining who to appoint as legal guardian.
Standby guardians assume control over children when original parents die or become unable to care for their offspring. These guardians also file formal court papers and must receive judicial approval.
Short-term guardians assume temporary custody of children upon official written documentation from parents granting temporary control. Judicial approval for this type of guardianship.