How do I become the legal guardian of a special needs person?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Special Education Law

Becoming the guardian of a special needs child or adult is a legal process. Once the child reaches a certain age, or once an adult becomes incapacitated, a relative or non-relative can file for guardianship. There are specific steps to take for appointing a guardian in Florida.


A legally valid guardian in Florida has to be an adult and a state resident. A non-resident must be related to the incapacitated person as a blood relative, spouse or an adopted child or parent.

Proof of incapacity

State authorities and medical professionals have to determine if the person has special needs and is incapacitated enough to be unable to make independent decisions.


Someone becomes a guardian by filing a petition to the court. An examining committee is hired, consisting of legal and medical professionals, to review its contents. During a hearing, they present evidence to the court to prove that the individual is or is not incompetent. A lawyer or guardian ad litem can be present to provide advice for the best interests of the incapacitated person.

Improvement in condition

There are cases in which a person’s condition improves such that they may be able to make decisions for themselves. The guardian has to file a petition in court and request to conclude the guardianship.

A parent, relative or friend can apply to become the legal guardian of a special needs child or adult. This person has to file a petition to the court and hire a committee to investigate a case. Legal and medical providers are hired to determine the level of a person’s incapacity. As the last step, the court determines whether or not to grant guardianship.