An interesting story from another state raised questions of guardianship and divorce as well as the status of a marriage after one spouse has undergone gender reassignment. Guardianships and family matters may intersect more as the Baby Boom generation ages. The gender reassignment question is particularly enlightening for states like Illinois that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
We are concluding our discussion of a recent Illinois Supreme Court case. The case is an unusual one for family lawyers, because it deals directly with circumstances that, to be honest, don't come up that often. A wife suffered severe injuries in a car accident during the marriage and became mentally disabled. Her husband's own health issues ended his guardianship of her, and their daughter took over. When the question of divorce arose, though, the daughter's role as guardian was not entirely clear.
Guardians have immense responsibilities and could have immense power over a person's affairs. The law, however, does not favor handing complete control of one person's life to another, so it includes safeguards. Court-appointed guardians, for example, must give the court a regular accounting of the ward's financial health and overall well-being. Family members or third-parties can challenge guardianships based on abuse of power.
The Illinois Supreme Court handed down a decision earlier this month that marks a significant shift in public policy. It also marks a profound victory for people with mental disabilities.