For many families in Illinois struggling with custody issues, deaths in the family, substance abuse, criminal charges or other serious concerns, a sibling may wish to seek formal custody of their younger sibling. A sibling may want to provide their younger brother or sister with a stable home while keeping the child out of foster care or other types of state placements outside the family.

Siblings share one or both of their parents, so a custody issue can be very emotionally compelling. At the same time, many siblings are close in age to one another, so a sibling seeking child custody must be able to demonstrate their suitability as a legal guardian.

Some parents or legal guardians may be willing to relinquish legal custody of the child to an older sibling. If they know they can’t care for the child or are unwilling to, they may be willing to take that legal step to formalize the relationship of care between siblings. In other cases, it may be necessary to pursue custody in court. This can include cases where there would have been no parental objection. For example, this step can be necessary if the younger sibling’s biological parents have passed away. Generally, a sibling can file for custody in the location where the younger sibling lives.

Depending on the circumstances, a sibling seeking custody will need to file official forms and documents and be able to demonstrate their ability to support the child. If the child is currently in the care of their parents or another legal guardian, one may need to make a convincing case for abuse or neglect with a danger of harm to the child.

A child custody lawyer is an important resource for a sibling seeking legal child custody for their younger brother or sister. A lawyer can provide legal guidance as to the requirements for custody in Illinois and to the legal and administrative process regarding child custody.