Harrison & Smyth, P.A.


Q: Who is usually appointed as guardian and conservator of a developmentally delayed child?

A: Most often parents are appointed as Co-Guardians and Co-Conservators of a developmentally delayed child. They each have the authority to act if the other is not present. If parents are divorced, then both can be appointed (usually this happens if they have a good relationship and are working well together) or the one who has been the primary caretaker is appointed. If there is no suitable family available, then any person who is interested in the welfare of a child may petition the Court to be appointed.

Q: When do I pay the $25 fee for the online course?

A: This fee is paid along with the filing fee at the time the guardianship is filed. This prompts the court to generate the order giving the website and code to complete the course. Petitioners do not need to pay this fee at the time they take the course online.

Q: Can I have an alternate guardian and conservator appointed?

A: Often parents are appointed as Co-Guardians and Co-Conservators for their child. Each of them can act to ensure their child is taken care of. If both of them are unable to act, then an alternative may be appointed to act in their place. If the parents know this person is not likely to change in the future, then usually the Court will allow an alternate to be appointed at the same time the parents are appointed. The alternate will only be able to act if both Co-Guardians and Co-Conservators are unable to act.

Q: What is the difference between Guardianship and Conservatorship?

A: A Guardianship grants someone the authority to make decision regarding where another person lives, medical and other health issues, associations, and other decisions regarding daily living. A Conservatorship grants someone authority to made financial decisions for another person. If someone needs assistance in their daily living, they usually also need help to ensure their finances are taken care of properly. It is very common to file a Petition for guardianship and conservatorship together.

Q: What is the role of a Guardian?

A: The guardian makes, or helps the individual make, decisions regarding where the individual lives, medical and other health issues, associations, and other decisions regarding daily living. Guardians are able to talk to medical providers and make medical decisions for the child.
The guardian is to ensure the individual makes as many of their own decisions as they are capable of making, however if the individual needs help then the guardian is able to assist and ensure a decision is made which is in the best interest of the individual. If the individual is completely unable to make a decision, then the guardian makes the decision. A guardian is there to assist and ensure the individual’s best interest is looked after.

Q: When should I file for guardianship of my developmentally delayed child?

A: This should be done sometime between when the individual is 17 to 17 1/2 years old. When a individual turns 18 years old they are considered an adult in the eyes of the law. If an individual is developmentally delayed they often do not have the capacity to handle their own affairs. Usually parents will seek to become a guardian of the person and conservator of the property of the individual. The court does not want to see guardianships filed prior to this age. This will give sufficient time to complete the needed background check, on-line courses, and necessary reports.


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