Guardianship Orders for learning disabled young adults

Thursday, 14 June 2018

If you are the parent or a carer of a young person with learning difficulties, autism or other developmental delay, you may have been advised by the child’s Head Teacher or Paediatrician to obtain a Guardianship Order when your child reaches the age of 16 years. 

The reason for this is that when a child reaches their 16th birthday all parental rights and responsibilities are extinguished, and “in the eyes of the law”, that child is an Adult and able to make their own decisions.  Of course, that is not always the case and if a child has learning difficulties they continue to require the help and support of their parents to make any decisions relating to their medical needs, ongoing education or living arrangements. 

In fact, the period of time between the ages of 16 and 21 are a particular period of change in a young adult’s life and it is more important than ever that they have the support of their parents, carers or a responsible adult as they navigate into adulthood.  

We, at Stevenson & Marshall, have met many families who are in this position.  A Guardianship Order relating to welfare decisions for a young adult must be obtained by way of a court application and is covered by Legal Aid without the need for any financial eligibility test and, in most cases, is free.  The cost of applying for legal aid is never more than £300 and only applies if the child has some assets of their own.  A welfare guardianship order can be applied for and granted by the court up to three months prior to a child’s 16th birthday.  

If you are the parent or carer of a young adult and need advice about applying for a guardianship order please contact our office for assistance. 

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