NEW JERSEY – Parents of children with developmental disabilities may soon be able to file a complaint for guardianship six months before a child reaches the age of 18 thanks to bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho and approved Thursday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“A parent should not have to wait until their child with special needs turns 18 to file a complaint for guardianship. If there is a delay with the courts, this can actually lead to a gap in legal protections for vulnerable individuals,” said Oroho (R-24). “My legislation will allow parents to file six months before a child turns 18 which will eliminate any potential protections gap and help maintain a stable support system for the entire family.”
Under current law, a parent may file a complaint for guardianship only after the child reaches age 18.
However, if court proceedings are delayed and a guardian is not yet appointed by the time the child turns 18, there is a gap and the developmentally disabled person is left without the legal protections of a parent or appointed guardian, until such time as the guardian is actually appointed.
Oroho’s bill (S-3260), which was inspired by a local family’s experience, allows a complaint for guardianship to be filed six months before the minor turns 18. This allows additional time to account for delays in court proceedings. The guardianship would take effect the day the minor turns 18.