What can I do when my special needs child turns 18?

As is the case in most states, a child in Massachusetts will reach an age at which, legally, they have both the right and responsibility to handle their own affairs. In this state, a child who is over 18 is an adult and presumably has the ability to take care of themselves. For some, though, help may still be needed to ensure that adult is safe both physically and financially.

A problem arises with respect to special needs children who may still require someone to manage their property and take care of their personal affairs, such as making sure they have appropriate medical care and the like. Sometimes, these legal matters can be handled through the divorce court or a paternity order. In other cases, however, a loved one who is overseeing someone on the cusp of legal adulthood will need to file a request for guardianship over an incapacitated person. An incapacitated person is someone who is a legal adult but cannot reasonably be expected to handle their own affairs.

Requesting a guardianship over an incapacitated person is slightly different from requesting a guardianship over someone who is under 18. Many of these differences are best explained by an attorney who has experience in creating guardianships for special needs individuals. On a practical level, for instance, additional documentation is required prior to filing a request for guardianship, including some proof that the person involved really cannot handle their own affairs.

Still, guardianships can be useful tools for parents who need to continue to provide for special needs children who need continued love and assistance.

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