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How can a guardianship assist with special needs children?

Florida parents who have children with special needs may worry about the time when those children reach adulthood, and the parents may lose the right to make important decisions on their child's behalf. To help alleviate such concerns, those parents should look into obtaining a guardianship that will ensure the continued care of their offspring.

Depending on the severity of the child's disability, a guardianship can be either full or limited. A full guardianship, also called a conservatorship, places all the authority to make decisions for the disabled in the hands of another individual or entity and is comprehensive in scope. By contrast, a limited guardianship provides the possibility of a supported decision-making method that affords the disabled more control in making decisions affecting his or her life with assistance from family, friends or trusted professionals. In both cases, the determination of authority is made by the court.

However, a debate has arisen over whether or not it is beneficial to allow the disabled more control in their own decision-making processes, especially after they transition into adulthood. A recent survey conducted by disability advocates suggested that those facing this transition need to be better educated about their options. Through the data was collected from over 1,000 parents with disabled children and more than 150 disabled persons across the country, the researchers found that full guardianships were recommended by a majority of school administrators and adult service providers regardless of the individual's capacity.

For Florida parents with similar concerns, being educated about all the options available is the most advisable course to take. While the advice of educational, medical and disability professionals is certainly important, any parent with a special needs child who is reaching adulthood would do well to consult with an attorney experienced in guardianships. In any case, the courts will be involved at some point throughout the process, and having a legal ally to help advocate for you and your child's best interest will be important.

Source:, "Guardianship Often Recommended Over Alternatives," Shaun Heasley, June 16, 2015

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