It is usually the case that a parent takes care of their child until they are of majority age. In some situations, parents extend the care and legal obligations of their child well into their adulthood. This occurs when a child is disabled and not fully capable of caring for himself or herself or making the day-to-day decisions. Although it is common practice to appoint the parent as guardian because it would be in the adult child's best interest, this is not always the case.
Florida's Department of children and Families has recently stated that they intend to file a petition in Miami-Dade probate court in order to establish guardianship to oversee the care and placement of a 30-year-old disabled man. It was discovered that the mother of an adult son with autism was placing him in a dungeon like room. She was arrested and charged with aggravated abuse, neglect of a mentally disabled adult and false imprisonment.
The woman stated that she had sought help from Florida's Agency for Persons with Disabilities, but has been on the waiting list for about 13 years. In recent months, funds have been allocated to assist with the long waiting list, but these funds most likely would not have helped her disabled son be removed from the treacherous conditions he was living in.
When the state steps in to gain guardianship or conservatorship, it is in order to serve the child or adult child in their best interest. In this case, the disabled son was not receiving adequate care and his living conditions were not proper. Furthermore, he was most likely not receiving the medial care and services that he needed. Although the state is only seeking temporary guardianship, in the interim, they will be able to improve the health of the man and determine his needs and capabilities. This in turn will allow them to establish a permanent guardianship to ensure he gets the care and treatment he needs.
Whether it is an adult child with disabilities or a minor child that is of concern, it is important that the best interest of the child is always considered when placing them under the care of a conservator or guardian.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Fla. mom charged with keeping autistic son in 'dungeon' says she tried to get him help," Aug 02, 2013