As parents, we’ve watched our children grow and celebrate their milestones. And then, that moment arrives: their 18th birthday. Suddenly, they inherit all the legal rights and responsibilities of adulthood. They can get married, sign contracts, and make decisions independently. It’s a pivotal time, and it often leads us to reflect on the memorable experiences of our youth – including that beautiful soul with a 1995 forest green Ford Mustang GT who wanted to marry us on the spot, even if it meant co-signing for the Mustang as a symbol of our love.
If you find yourself in that situation, don’t worry; blink twice, and we’ll be rescued!
But on a more serious note, this newfound adult status means that our children can make choices regarding their medical care, where they live, and who they live with. Schools, doctors, and financial institutions are no longer required to communicate with parents without the authorization of our young adults. It’s a shift that should prompt us to consider legal guardianship.
The Importance of Guardianship
Guardianship is a vital tool that allows parents to continue guiding and protecting their adult children as they transition into this new phase of life. It empowers parents, who become legal guardians, to assist their children in making important decisions and safeguarding their best interests. However, it’s essential to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to guardianship. Deciding on the correct type of guardianship is a profoundly personal decision.
As parents, we have a unique understanding of our children’s needs. Still, it’s also essential to seek professional guidance to assess their abilities and determine the type of support they will require as adults. Guardianship can vary in scope, and understanding the available options is paramount.
Types of Guardianship
Guardianship comes in various forms, each tailored to meet specific needs. Here’s an overview:
Full guardianship grants the guardian complete decision-making authority over all aspects of the individual’s life, including personal, medical, and financial affairs. This is the most restrictive form of guardianship and is typically considered when the individual requires comprehensive support.
Limited guardianship provides partial decision-making authority, focusing on specific areas of life, such as medical care and financial matters. With this type of guardianship, parents can petition the court to assist their child in making decisions in select areas while allowing them independence.
Joint guardianship allows more than one individual, such as both parents, to share guardianship authority and responsibility. This collaborative approach can be valuable when parents are actively involved in their child’s life.
Guardian advocacy is often the least restrictive form of guardianship. It empowers the guardian to advocate for the best interests of their child without the need for a full guardianship arrangement. This option is typically reserved for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Guardianship serves a dual purpose – it gives parents the legal authority to assist their children in making decisions and safeguards their medical and financial interests. It’s a crucial step towards ensuring that our children continue to receive the support and guidance they need as they embark on their adult journey.
The Guardianship Process
Becoming a guardian involves a legal process that varies from state to state. In most states, a background check is required to become a guardian. The best way to determine specific requirements in your state is to contact the appropriate authorities or legal professionals who can guide you through the process.
Guardianship is not just a legal formality; it’s a means of ensuring that our children are protected as they enter adulthood. As parents and legal guardians, it allows us to continue playing an active role in their lives, offering guidance, support, and advocacy. So, as your child approaches their 18th birthday, consider the importance of guardianship and take the necessary steps to safeguard their future. After all, our role as parents never truly ends; it evolves.