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Home » Contested Guardianships » Guardianship for special-needs adults

When special-needs children turn 18, they become legal adults. While some adult children may be capable of living independently, others may need assistance. In some situations, parents may need to establish guardianship for their children.

Not all special-needs adults need guardians. According to, parents should ask themselves several questions before they establish guardianship. Do their adult children have jobs? Can they communicate and explain what they need? Do they understand what kind of care they need, and do they have opinions about this care? Additionally, parents should consider whether their children can provide for their basic needs. If special-needs adults are capable of taking care of themselves, they may not need a guardian. However, parents may want to consider guardianship if their adult children cannot make some decisions alone.

Types of guardianship

According to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, parents can apply for limited or general guardianship. If parents have limited guardianship, they can make decisions about where their adult children live and the kind of medical care they receive. Additionally, they can assist with financial and legal decisions. This type of guardianship may be most appropriate when a special-needs adult can make some decisions alone but needs help making other choices.

People may also receive general guardianship of their adult child. This allows them to make all the decisions regarding their child’s life. New Jersey courts may only award general guardianship if a special-needs adult cannot make any decisions or express a preference.

Medical evaluation

People have to demonstrate that guardianship is in the best interests of the special-needs adult. Parents need to have a medical professional evaluate their adult child. This medical professional may be either a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The medical assessment should explain the capabilities of the special-needs adult. This allows New Jersey courts to evaluate whether a guardianship is right for the situation.

Once guardianship is in place, people need approval from the courts to change the order. Parents may want to carefully consider all their options before they make a decision.