Guardianship over an adult child with a disability–is it necessary?

For parents of a child with a disability, who have made every decision for that child for his or her entire life, they can be surprised to learn that they need to obtain guardianship over the child to continue such decision-making once the child turns 18.  Should you seek guardianship of your disabled child?

Guardianship takes away all of the choices a person can make in life.  It is a serious matter and can be time-consuming and costly.  There is court oversight and the guardian is responsible for financial accountings and other reports to the court.  In general, before pursuing guardianship over someone, consideration should be taken of all less restrictive alternatives.

A person, typically a parent, interested in pursuing guardianship must petition the court.  Clear and convincing evidence must be presented that shows the judge that the person lacks understanding to make or communicate decisions or is unable to manage his or her property and affairs effectively due to disability.

Each state has different standards when pursuing a guardianship.  Ohio has new rules pertaining to guardianships.  The Ohio Revised Code’s laws pertaining to guardianships (and conservatorships):  If you have any guardianship questions, contact me at


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