The parents of children with special needs are often acutely aware of their family member’s unusual support requirements. After all, they very likely provide most, if not all, of the social, financial and medical support that the child requires. They know that while most 18-year-olds struggle with independence, their child would be truly incapable of handling their own affairs.
However, the state of Florida may not necessarily recognize the extent of a child’s dependence, even if they have a formal medical diagnosis. Parents often just assume that they will be able to continue taking care of their children with special needs even after they turn 18. However, their ongoing access to information about their child and decision-making authority will potentially end when a child turns 18. Therefore, parents with 16 and 17-year-old young adults may need to start thinking about guardianship so that they don’t lose the ability to support their child.
Florida law allows parents to continue protecting a child
Legally severing the obligations of a parent when a child turns 18 isn’t always the best option for a young adult, especially those with special needs. Whether a teenager has a developmental disability that has affected their life from birth or they have an acquired issue, such as a brain injury from a car crash, state law recognizes that they could require the support of someone else to meet their own needs on a day-to-day basis.
A guardianship obtained by a parent will allow them to continue exerting the same authority when a child turns 18 as they had when the child was still a minor. A parent with a guardianship will be able to make medical and educational choices on behalf of a child with special needs. They can also manage their finances and personal assets.
Although a child may not be enthusiastic about the loss of their perceived coming-of-age independence, the truth is that they may need a parent to continue guiding them and supporting their development. Securing a guardianship with the assistance of a legal professional is often an important step for parents who want to provide the best future possible for a child with special needs.