Many parents who have children with physical and/or mental developmental disabilities need to know what to do when their child comes of age. On a child’s 18th Birthday, regardless of any physical or mental disability, their parents automatically lose the ability to make decisions for their child. This is a huge issue upon their 18th Birthday, because parents cannot even take their child to the doctor or enroll them in the programs that they may need. This is where a Guardian Advocacy is extremely helpful. By becoming the Guardian Advocate over your child with a disability, you can continue to make decisions for your child as their natural guardian since their birth.
Guardian Advocacy is controlled by Florida Statute 393.12. Florida Statute 393.063(9) defines a developmental disability as “a disorder or syndrome that is attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, or Prader-Willi syndrome; that manifests before the age of 18; and that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.”
A Guardian Advocacy differs from a normal guardianship since the child turning 18 already has a well-documented disability they have dealt with throughout their life. Consequently, the court does not need to deem them incapacitated in order to appoint a guardian. This makes the Guardian Advocacy process much less expensive and much more streamlined than a normal guardianship.
In order to establish a Guardian Advocacy over your child turning 18, you must first consult with an attorney. In Florida you cannot petition the court to become a guardian without an attorney. Once an attorney has been retained, a petition for Guardian Advocacy is filed with the court and the court appoints an attorney to look out for the best interests of the child. This attorney’s main job is to verify that the child does in fact have a developmental disability, that a Guardianship Advocacy is needed, and to ensure the person filing for guardianship is the best candidate.
Once the court appointed attorney meets with the child and the person asking to become the guardian, a hearing is held before the court and a guardian is appointed. How quick the process takes largely depends on how busy the court and court appointed attorney are.
The attorneys at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experience in helping parents establish a Guardian Advocacy for their children and want to help you through this process. Call today to speak with an attorney today at (904) 685-1200.