Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

What should you do when a special needs child becomes an adult?

| Oct 8, 2020 | guardianships

Although parenthood is a lifetime commitment to the child that you created or adopted, many of your responsibilities and obligations theoretically end when your child turns 18. Realistically, of course, children often remain dependent long after they reach that age and will require both financial and practical help and advice from their parents while continuing their education, establishing an independent household and beginning a career.

If you have a child with special needs, whether they have an acquired condition due to a car accident or a lifelong disability like autism or Down syndrome, your child may not be ready to live independently or handle their own legal and financial matters when they reach the age of 18. In fact, they may never be able to truly live independently. What are your options as a concerned parent of an older teenager with special needs?

Texas law allows you to seek a guardianship to support your child

When a child with special needs reaches 18, it is possible for their parent to go to the courts and ask the courts to appoint them as guardian over the now-adult child. Guardianship gives that parent authority over financial accounts so that young adults with special needs won’t rack up debt or otherwise get into trouble. A guardianship can also empower capable and concerned adults to make medical, financial and other decisions on behalf of a new adult with special needs.

Just because you seek guardianship, that doesn’t mean you can’t still support some degree of independence for a child with special needs. You could encourage them to get a job or continue their education, all while you support them by assuming responsibility for practical matters.

If you think you may need a guardianship, discussing your concerns with an experienced attorney well before your child turns 18 will likely be the best way to optimize the protections available for you and them.