When most children turn 18, their parents’ responsibility for them ends. The children are legally considered adults, and the law will treat them as such. For parents of special needs children, things are a bit different. Even when special needs children turn 18 years old, they may still be in need of guardianship and protection.
For special needs children who have turned 18, their parents need to determine whether they are going to continue being the guardian for their children or if they’re going to have a guardian appointed. The guardian will be the appointed person who makes decisions for the child’s welfare. This is referred to as adult guardianship.
When a guardianship is established, it needs to be determined exactly how much authority that guardian will have. Guardians may be in charge of some of the affairs of a special needs person, or they may be in charge of every single aspect of that person’s life. Depending on the state that the special needs child lives in, a conservator may also be established. The conservator is someone who handles the financial affairs of an incapacitated person. In some states, the conservator and the guardian are separate people; in other states, they could be the same person.
In some cases, special needs adults may not need someone to be a full-time guardian. These adults are relatively self-sufficient and may even have jobs and homes of their own. In those cases, a limited guardianship is usually set up. Guardians can be anyone over the age of 18. In most cases of special needs children, the parents apply to be guardians over their children once they turn 18. If the parents cannot agree on who should retain guardianship over their child, the court may appoint a person to the position.
Setting up an adult guardianship for a disabled person is important in order to ensure that their rights are protected. Working with family law attorneys who have experience in this area of law may help parents looking for legal support.