Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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What is different when seeking special needs guardianship?

All children are special. Some even more-so than others, in that they were born or developed certain mental or physical differences that may leave them needing extra care and attention to ensure their well-being. These children are what are considered children with special needs. If seeking guardianship of a child that fits this description in Massachusetts, there are a few things one must understand about the process that is specific to special needs children.

As one may already know, a guardian is a person who cares for and has legal responsibility and power for an individual who may otherwise be unable to care for themselves. This is especially relevant to special needs children since they are often unable to make or understand decisions that have an impact on their well-being.

Essentially, a guardian is like a protector of the child (ward). A guardian should be appointed in the event that another party does not have the legal ability to make such decisions. When it comes to guardianship of a special needs child, the guardianship could extend well into that child's adult life, if their disability facilitates such a need.

Some rights granted to the guardian of a special needs child may include things, like making financial and medical decisions for the child and assuring that the health and safety of the child. Responsibilities of a guardian include submitting, through updates of the child's condition, to the court to ensure duties of the guardian are being met.

In other words, it ensures that the guardian is working on behalf of the child. Since guardians are not omnipotent in these relationships, think of a guardian as more of a guide, someone who steps in to ensure everything is taken care of for the special needs child.

Guardianship may be a great way to make a positive impact in a special needs child's life. This is especially true if there is no-one else to look after the child. Guardians can make a positive impact that can affect the rest of a child's life.

Source:, "Guardianship of Incapacitated or Disabled Persons," accessed on July 11, 2016

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