Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Just applied for legal guardianship- asking for your advice

After 8 years of my 27 year old son being in and out of the hospital, most of the time agreeable to medications, it’s finally come to me applying for legal guardianship of him. His last hospitalization was fall of 2019. At that time, the doctors put him on the Invega shot. This is probably the 7th different medication that my son has been given throughout his illness. Since his hospitalization this past fall, he has refused to take any medication claiming that they are poison to his system.
It was recommended to me a year ago to file for guardianship but I was always hesitant to for several reasons which I won’t go in to on this post. But I guess what changed my mind was that I realized this would allow me to be his strong voice concerning his treatment, taking his feelings in to consideration and also not just blindly following what someone thinks he needs when they’ve only spent 10-15 minutes with him. By no means am I disregarding the medical community or their expertise and I clearly put an enormous amount of trust in their decisions of treatment. But having legal guardianship for my son gives a voice from someone who loves him more than anyone and who has obviously spent the most time with him.
The next step that I need to take is to explain to my son that I have applied, what that means, and what to expect. Boy am I nervous about that. I’m not sure what to expect, and I realize that everyone is different so I’m asking you to please share your experiences with me, including how you approached the subject, the response you received, and how long it took for things to settle down. Did you have another loved one (friend or family member) with you when you shared your intentions?
At this point, my son is very delusional so I’m not sure how much he will comprehend or if his delusions will cause him to completely flip out. I also have huge concerns that he will leave the house (he lives with me and I’m a single parent) and I won’t be able to find him.
I’m looking forward to hearing your stories, and thanks in advance for sharing.

Guardianships are not easily given because they take away the person’s rights. There can also be a “limited” guardianship. Some states separate guardianship into management of a person’s finances as opposed to complete authority over the person (to do things for the person in his best interest). State law, and even judges themselves, will vary in how they look at this. Look up the law in your state. From what I have learned, you have to prove that the person is unable to take care of himself. In our country a person has a right to refuse meds. Even with a guardianship, you cannot force medication unless it is court-ordered, such as for a AOT (Assisted Outpatient Treatment) which typically is used only after a crime has been committed. This possibly varies by state, so it is important to know the laws in your state. After researching and you still think you have a case for guardianship, I suggest consulting with an attorney who specializes in these things. I have found attorneys who gave free initial consultations over the phone. An attorney familiar with guardianship law will even know which judges (if you have a choice about where you can file) are more lenient to give guardianships than others.

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You will be lucky if you get guardianship. My daughter refused to sign the form.

We wanted to get guardianship, went to a lawyer. Basically it will never happen because my son is non compliant and never goes to a doctor. A doctor also has to sign a form. As much as my son needs a guardianship, there’s no way around it.

I wasn’t able to get it for my daughter in NYS. They said she’d have to testify. I couldn’t afford a trial and didn’t want her to be put through the trauma.

I’m so sorry to hear that. I have a notarized doctor recommendation from my son’s last hospital stay, which was helpful, along with screenshots of text messages that he’s sent to me. Not sure that the text messages will help, but the doctors letter will. My son is also non-compliant and is now talking about suing his doctor. I’m trying to be consistent in using the “I’m not sick, I don’t need help” book suggestions in communicating with him, but it’s so frustrating because it’s difficult for him to carry on a realistic conversation. Most all of his communication is about his delusions. I hope that things turn around for your son and that you have a supportive group of people to help you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Info about guardianship. The Treatment Advocacy Center is a great resource for all things related to advocacy to help our loved ones. I encourage all persons on this site to become familiar with the information and work that this non-profit is doing. https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/component/content/article/183-in-a-crisis/2615-learn-about-guardianship

I really like how oldladyblue handled it in the courtroom (it was about meds not guardianship) If I recall correctly she spoke honestly to the judge about the things that concerned her daughter- right in front of her daughter. Delusions - but to her daughter the real thing.

If I ever have the opportunity I plan to do that, I could see my son being present in a courtroom and being grateful that his real concerns were being addressed.

I presume you were asking your daughter to voluntarily give you guardianship? Otherwise, why would she have to sign a form? She would have to have legal papers served on her, however, and if she refused to sign, you should still be able to pursue guardianship. But there is no point unless (in my words, best to look up the legalese in your state) the person is unable to care for or make decisions for herself.

It is my understanding that being non-med-compliant and having delusions are not reasons for a guardianship to be granted involuntarily.