Guardianship is very important to protect a child with developmental disabilities, mental illness, or other diminished capacity. Unless a court grants legal guardianship, once your child turns 18 parents no longer have the legal right to make decisions even if intellectually and emotional developmentally disabled. Privacy laws may preclude banks, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and other institutions from sharing information with parents.

To retain authority to make important decisions for your child, influence schooling and health care, and once your child turns 18, you need to become guardian. A guardian is appointed by Superior Court of New Jersey upon proof that your adult child can’t manage their own affairs and needs your guidance. Susan Clark Law Group, LLC can represent you in the court application to not only prepare the petition but also handle court appearances when a client seeks guardianship. Many families consider guardianship as an option for their family member. A guardian is defined as “a person or agency appointed by a court to act on behalf of an individual”.

Establishing guardianship is a legal process. As parents consider whether or not to begin an application for guardianship, they should be aware of the following:

(1) Attendance at school IEP meetings is not dependent on a guardianship relationship. A parent can still be involved in educational planning unless the individual expressly indicates otherwise.
(2) Parents can still remain involved in medical issues, and might be asked to give consent as next-of-kin in an emergency.
(3) All applications for guardianship require an up-to-date assessment from either a psychologist or a psychiatrist licensed in the State of New Jersey, or from a licensed medical doctor.
(4) A guardian can be a family member, another interested person, or an agency such as the Bureau of Guardianship Services. A co-guardian can also be named. Co-guardians are more than one person appointed as guardian and each have equal decision-making authority, and must be involved together in all decisions or consents needed for the individual
(5) Once a guardian or co-guardians have been appointed by the Superior Court, only the court can modify or change the guardianship order.

Susan Clark Law Group can help to decide what form of Guardianship is best for your family. General Guardianship is sometimes referred to as ‘plenary’ guardianship, and is appropriate for people who have been found incapable of making or expressing any decisions.

If you child is high-functioning despite development disabilities, you also have an option of Limited Guardianship. For people who have capacity to make some decisions but not others, the court can order a limited guardianship.

A family member can become a limited guardian to have authority over day to day decisions and the guardian handles health, safety, and financial issues. By doing so, they your child with mild impairments will still have the right to vote, marry, make a will, or perform other common adult activities.

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