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What Happens When My Disabled Child Turns 18 In New Jersey?

Last updated on June 17, 2024

Your child with autism, Down Syndrome, schizophrenia or another severe disability will one day become an adult. This is a momentous moment for your child, but it can also be scary and complicated for you. Once your disabled child is legally an adult, you no longer have the automatic right to make decisions on their behalf – and that can create numerous problems and even put them in danger of financial manipulation or abuse by others.

At Weisberg & Klauber, LLC, our lawyers have helped parents obtain the legal right to continue caring for their disabled adult children for decades through guardianship and other legal means. Our guardianship attorneys serve concerned families throughout New Jersey. You can talk with us to schedule an initial consultation at one of our offices located in Ocean Township and New Brunswick.

Informed Consent: What It Means From Your Disabled Adult Child

Informed consent is a person’s right to make life decisions with the full knowledge of the possible consequences of doing so. When your child is a minor, you automatically have this right – but informed consent shifts to your child once they turn 18 years of age.

When someone has a significant disability that affects their ability to understand a situation or the consequences of an agreement, this shift can be problematic. Your disabled adult child may not have the capacity, for example, to understand what they are agreeing to when they sign a contract. Nor may they have the ability to make truly informed decisions about their own medical care.

If you obtain guardianship of your adult child, you can continue to make decisions on their behalf, including signing key documents and providing medical information to doctors and medical professionals. At Weisberg & Klauber, LLC, we can educate you on your rights as a guardian of your child with disabilities once they become an adult.

Filing For Guardianship Of Your Disabled Adult Child

The process of filing guardianship begins with a request to your county’s county surrogate’s office. You can provide evidence to a Superior Court judge during a hearing to establish a case for guardianship of your child. Your case can be supported with medical documentation proving your child’s disability and need for assisted care once they become an adult.

One of the key factors in obtaining guardianship of your child is that they must be 18 years of age. You can start the process of gaining guardianship of your child three months before their 18th birthday. Our attorneys can walk you through the process of gaining guardianship of your adult child. Once you gain guardianship of your adult child with disabilities, you can continue to act on behalf of your child for their well-being until the guardianship is terminated.

Understand The Two Types Of Guardianship: General And Limited

During the hearing with a Superior Court, your case will be reviewed, and the type of guardianship may be established. There are two types of guardianship, including:

  • General guardianship: The guardian has full responsibilities and rights over an incapacitated person’s life. This is appropriate for the most severely disabled adults who are incapable of making any decisions for themselves.
  • Limited guardianship: The guardian will only have the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of a ward. This form of guardianship can be tailored to the unique needs of the individual and is appropriate for situations where the ward only needs some oversight for their protection.

Our attorneys can discuss with you which version of guardianship may be appropriate and what alternative options you have to continue providing for your disabled adult child.

Why You Need An Experienced Lawyer

Obtaining guardianship of a child with disabilities is a time-sensitive and delicate matter. One mistake could delay the process and cause much grief for families. Our lawyers at Weisberg & Klauber, LLC, can help you and your child get the support you need to obtain guardianship. When you are ready to talk with us about securing guardianship for your special needs child, call us at 732-686-6440 or send an email to get started.