Anyone have guardianship for their Difficult Child?


My Difficult Child is not quite an adult (he is 16) but I I know that it is around the corner and I have given up the thought that he just somehow magically will turn from a difficult child into an a-okay adult. He comes by his difficulties honestly - current diagnosis include adhd, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and anxiety disorder. He has been on medication since he was 7, he sees a therapist weekly and he has an IEP in school. While he does well academically, he has never had a friend, has little to no common sense, is very rigid in his thinking and has very poor social skills (despite years and years of therapies). I do not see him able to live by himself anytime soon (as within the next decade or two) and group home spaces are rare in our state, even for adults with more severe disabilities. (He does have an official diagnosis but not a social worker)
Given all that, I know that soon I will have an adult child living in my home who will be capable in some ways but not able to function fully in the world. We are looking at this with very mixed feelings. We know he needs help but he is a difficult child who can become quite belligerent and threatening when he feels that his routines are interrupted. He needs our help but we have a right to feel safe in our home as well.
So I am wondering about becoming his guardian. I imagine that some of you are in similar situation only a few years down the road. Do you feel that being your Difficult Child's guardian has helped navigate the system or has it made dynamics more difficult? Any advice?
(PS My signature is outdated by 2+ years, will fix soon)

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Frieda and welcome to the forum. So sorry for your need to be here. I do not have answers for you, but just wanted to check in and let you know you are not alone, others will come along who have knowledge and experience along similar lines of your challenge.
You have been at this for quite some time, and I am sorry for your aching mommy heart.
Take care dear, be very kind to yourself, you matter.
Sorry I could not be of help to you.


Well-Known Member
Frieda, welcome.

I thought about it briefly. Mostly around health issues. My son, now 27, has a chronic illness that requires treatment and he is minimally treatment compliant. He is also mentally ill.

I struggled with my fear he will die, without treatment. I also had a hard time because he seemed to be without money after mid-month when his SSI ran out. And thus without food. We went so far as to go to the social security office, and he requested that I become his payee. They refused saying their preference as recipients manage their own money.

These are my thoughts ten months later.

In the past year my son was homeless. He lived marginally. He couch-surfed. He became desperate and disorganized. But he survived. He is learning. He must learn or live in a protected status.

I came to accept that I had no place in that. It is between him and whatever county he is living in.

Had I accepted responsibility for him, there would have been no learning and no acceptance of his limitations. I would always have been the person to fight, to hold responsible. What a horrible life that would have been for each of us. I am glad I came to see that.

I accepted that my son may predecease me. That is not a thought that I like. But I have come to accept that as one possibility. I realize it was always a possibility. I can never govern my son one hundred percent.

There is also the liability that comes from guardianship. I thought about that, too.

I am glad you are here. Keep posting. It helps. Take care.



Well-Known Member
My twenty-two year old son is NOT difficult, but he is on the autism spectrum and needs a bit of help in his adulthood. I think it is a good idea for any parent with a child on the spectrum at all to get legal guardianship, although with a difficult child I'm not sure he'll listen to you. My son doesn't have many rules from me and is really thriving on his own and my biggest responsibility for him is that I'm his payee (he has no idea how to hang onto money). The thing is, he is compliant with the arrangement and not at all unhappy with me. I don't really interfere with his life, but I can help him in medical crises and other things he'd otherwise be unable to figure out on his own (or be afraid to act on).

It is a good idea to plan get the guardianship and services BEFORE he graduates so you have a plan. I don't feel all adults can make it on their own completely. Some need a lot of help (Downs Syndrome, for example), some need less help but still need us to help them in difficult situations (autism).

I had no trouble at all getting guardianship. It was fast and one court date. My hubby and son came with and it was pretty easy as son had already been labeled as disabled. He is actually much more "abled" than many young adults who do not have autism and have substance abuse problems, and is about 98% independent and lives in his own apartment. We pay th e rent out of his SSI and the money he makes at a part time job and he's a pretty happy guy.

Every child is different. Every adult is different. You know your son best.

I am not that familiar with guardianship laws because it was so easy for us. I may drop t he guardianship one day as he doesn't seem to need it. The payee part...that he will need for the rest of his life. When we are gone, one will be appointed to help him with money.

Hugs for your hurting heart.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome Frieda. I don't post often in this forum even though my kids are both now adults. My youngest is 18 and a major difficult child! We will probably seek guardianship for him because he will be able to be somewhat independent but also (in addition to his mental health issues) has some very real learning issues. We have talked to him about this and he actually has said it will be okay with him (he is the type who cannot save money if his life depended on it because he can't reason it through that he needs it for other things more important).


I Am The Walrus
I would see what that makes you "liable" for per your state. I am sure it varies. In mine, we would not be "liable" for anything Difficult Child does legally/financially/etc, but instead "obligated" to step in on her behalf should she make financial/legal/medical decisions that are not in her best interest. It gives control of finances, etc. We can step back as long as decisions are sound, but put the brakes on if they go off the rails.

Also, for me it would depend on how "cooperative" Difficult Child is. If it is seen as "control" and Difficult Child is constantly fighting against it and making you jump through hoops out of rebellion, it might not be worth it. If Difficult Child is more cooperative and understanding of why, what it means, and can see it as a safety net instead of handcuffs, it might be worth it. Every Difficult Child is different.

You might even look into doing it on a "temporary" basis (available where I live) that is revisited every 6 months or a year. Difficult Child might be more cooperative/understanding to that. I would also want to know the process involved if you decide at some point to drop guardianship.

A dad

Active Member
In your opinion is he able to work for money meaning to hold a job? My youngest is very similar to yours but no diagnosis of any issue because I did bothered to have him diagnosed because I taught he will grow out of it. Poor social skills and did not fully grasped common sense but in less then a year he worked abroad and gathered enough money to buy a 3 bedroom apartment of course I do have to say apartments are dirt cheap in my country I mean there are 1 bedroom apartments with 2000 euro.
Now he was his own home and works at a manufacturing company to pay the bills.
My point is as long as he is able to work and hold a job and get a income there is not reason for you to get guardianship you can let him stay in your home if he pays bills and pays rent if you want.
The rest well are his choices if he wants relationships or not.


Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I will look into the option of limited guardianship and do some hard thinking. I remember that when my son was first diagnosed, I went through a period of grieving. I had to rethink who he was. It took awhile and I think I ended up being a better, more patient parent (and advocate) because of it. I think I will have to grieve my thoughts of what his future should be like.
Thank you all again.