Adult father hugs little daughter, standing in foreground. Young parents argue about one who will take guardianship of little daughter in lawyers office.
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Sometimes it is necessary to appoint a guardian for an adult with special needs if they cannot make important decisions independently. Guardianship for special needs adults in New Jersey is a legal arrangement where a court appoints a guardian to make decisions on behalf of an individual who is deemed unable to decide for themselves due to a physical or mental disability. This process protects the rights and interests of adults with disabilities who cannot manage their affairs effectively.

Key Elements Of Guardianship For Special Needs Adults In New Jersey

In New Jersey, guardianship is governed by the New Jersey Guardianship Act, which outlines the procedures and criteria for establishing guardianship for incapacitated adults. (https:/ To establish guardianship, the petitioner (often a family member or concerned party) must demonstrate to the court that the individual in question cannot make decisions regarding their personal care, financial affairs, or both. This incapacity must be due to a mental or physical condition.

There are different types of guardianship in New Jersey:

  • Guardian of the Person: Responsible for making decisions regarding the individual’s personal care, medical treatment, and residential placement.
  • Guardian of the Estate: Manages the individual’s financial affairs, including assets, income, and expenses.
  • Limited Guardian: Appointed for specific purposes or periods, often when the individual retains some capacity to make certain decisions.

The process of establishing guardianship typically involves filing a petition with the court, providing evidence of the individual’s incapacity through medical or psychological evaluations, and notifying all interested parties, including the individual, family members, and relevant agencies. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether guardianship is necessary and who should serve as the guardian.

The court’s primary consideration in appointing a guardian is the best interests of the individual. The appointed guardian must act in the individual’s best interests, considering their preferences and wishes to the extent possible. Once the guardian has been appointed, guardians in New Jersey must file regular reports with the court detailing their actions and decisions on behalf of the individual. The court may also appoint a guardian ad litem or court evaluator to assess the individual’s situation and make recommendations to the court. Remember that guardianship for special needs adults often involves unique considerations, such as ensuring access to appropriate support services, advocating for their rights, and planning for their long-term care needs, including housing, healthcare, and financial stability.

Guardianship may be terminated if the individual’s capacity improves to the point where they can make decisions independently or with less restrictive support. Alternatively, if the guardian fails to fulfill their duties or acts contrary to the individual’s best interests, the court may remove them and appoint a new guardian.

Guardianship is considered a last resort, and the court will explore less restrictive alternatives whenever possible. These may include powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, supported decision-making agreements, or other less intrusive arrangements that allow the individual to retain autonomy and decision-making capacity to the fullest extent possible.


In summary, guardianship for special needs adults in New Jersey is a legal process designed to protect vulnerable individuals who cannot decide for themselves. While guardianship entails a loss of autonomy, it aims to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the necessary support and advocacy to lead fulfilling lives while safeguarding their rights and interests. In light of the complexities involved in guardianship proceedings, petitioners and prospective guardians should seek legal assistance from an attorney experienced in family law or disability rights to navigate the process effectively and protect the individual’s rights. Bozanian McGregor LLC has experienced family law attorneys who can help you navigate guardianship and ensure that our office handles your individual situation professionally and compassionately.

About the Author
Elton’s passion has always been family, guardianship, and estate practice, and the complexities that accompany each unique, family-oriented matter.