Any type of co-parenting relationship can be complicated, especially when the relationship ends in divorce. Divorcing parents of a special needs child, even one that has reached adulthood, may have questions about their rights and obligations as guardians when it comes to making decisions for their adult child.
While laws may vary from state to state, the core of co-guardianship essentially comes down to the idea that the parents must work together on making decisions about their child’s care. Ideally, both guardians will agree on things such as living arrangements, medical treatments, and financial support. In situations where there is a dispute about these issues, seeking out the advice of an estate planning attorney and including a plan for the child’s care in the divorce decree will be helpful.
Allowing one parent to sign off on important decisions without having the other parent present can also be agreed upon as long as it’s done in good faith. This would eliminate the need for both parents or guardians to be present for the signing of documents. However, any disagreements on these decisions may require getting the court involved and allowing the judge to decide. One way to avoid this is to agree ahead of time that any conflicts will be managed by a third party such as a mediator, caseworker, or other relevant professional.
Handling the co-guardianship of an adult child with special needs isn’t much different than dealing with custody issues involving minor children. The process is much easier if both parents or guardians will do their best to cooperate and agree to do what’s best for their child. Setting aside any personal differences will make the process much easier for everyone involved.
If you are ready to start the process of filing for Guardianship of an adult child with special needs, or you have questions about how to share these responsibilities with an ex-spouse, we invite you to contact our Tampa estate planning and special needs law firm at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.