My Special Needs Child Is Turning 18 – How Do I Set Up Guardianship?

  • Sep 26, 2023

Guardianship in New Jersey is laid out to safeguard the welfare of those who cannot make decisions for themselves. While the term “guardianship” may seem straightforward, New Jersey statutes provide a nuanced framework for establishing it, depending on the unique needs of the individual concerned.

As parents of children with special needs, you may find yourselves grappling with the intricacies of guardianship as your child nears the age of 18. The legal landscape can be complicated, but the Falcon Law Group understands the nuances and legal frameworks essential for setting up a secure future for your child — establishing guardianship for a child with special needs in New Jersey.

Why Is Guardianship Crucial at 18?

In New Jersey, reaching the age of 18 bestows upon an individual certain legal rights and responsibilities. For a child with special needs, this change may not reflect their capability to manage these newfound responsibilities. Therefore, guardianship becomes crucial in safeguarding their best interests and ensuring they receive the proper care and assistance.

Who Is Eligible to Become a Guardian?

Eligibility for guardianship isn’t just open to anyone; the court considers several factors when appointing a guardian. Primarily, any person with a genuine, demonstrable interest in the well-being of the individual can file for guardianship. This usually includes family members such as parents, siblings, or even close friends.

However, it’s essential to note that family members are not automatically entitled to guardianship. The court rigorously evaluates the potential guardian’s capability to fulfill the responsibilities. They may require background checks, interviews, or even psychological evaluations in certain instances.

Different Types of Guardianship Available for Your Child

When your child with special needs is turning 18, it’s crucial to understand the types of guardianship available in New Jersey. Here are the types of guardianship you can consider before setting up one for your child:

  • Guardianship of Person and Estate: This is the most complete form of guardianship. Here, the guardian would be responsible for your child’s health, housing, day-to-day needs, and money matters.
  • Guardianship of the Person Only: In this case, the guardian is in charge of your child’s well-being and healthcare but not their financial assets.
  • Guardianship of the Estate Only: Here, the guardian’s role is only to manage your child’s finances, including assets and bills.
  • General Guardianship: This type gives the guardian full decision-making power in all areas that the guardianship covers. It’s for cases where the child cannot make any decisions on their own.
  • Limited Guardianship: This is a more flexible option. It lets your child make some decisions on their own while their guardian handles specific areas that they can’t manage.

Choosing the right type of guardianship can be complex, but it’s a vital step in planning for your child’s future as they turn 18. Consulting professionals like special needs attorneys in NJ can provide tailored advice for your situation.

The Steps to Establish Guardianship in NJ

When setting up guardianship for your child, the following steps are vital:

  1. Consult a Special Needs Attorney: Engage the services of special needs attorneys in NJ to guide you through the legal labyrinth of guardianship.
  2. Medical Evaluation: Obtain a comprehensive evaluation from medical professionals that ascertains the level of care your child needs.
  3. File a Verified Complaint: The initial application begins with submitting a verified complaint to the court, which must include medical affidavits and relevant documentation.
  4. Court-Appointed Attorney: After submission, the court appoints an attorney to represent your child’s interests, providing an additional layer of legal scrutiny.
  5. Hearing and Judgement: A court hearing ensues where you must present evidence to justify the need for guardianship. Following a positive ruling, the court will issue a decree officially appointing a guardian.

Given the intricacies involved, consulting with a New Jersey special needs attorney can significantly ease the process. At Falcon Law Group, we are committed to helping you navigate these complexities effectively. Contact us today for a consultation to ensure a secure and stable future for your child.

Get In Touch

The law is confusing and scary if you don’t deal with it every day.
We want you to have peace of mind. We don’t use legalese. You have questions — we have answers.

Not Your Typical Lawyers.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.