Continuing Tutorships and Child Interdictions:
A “Continuing Tutorship” is a legal proceeding for special needs children with intellectual disabilities who are age 15, 16, or 17. The legal standard states that when the child “possesses less than two-thirds of the intellectual functioning of a person of the same age with average intellectual functioning…” The parents or children usually do not have to make a court appearance.
Based on the documentation given to the court to prove the intellectual disability of the child (usually IEP evaluations/IQ tests, medical and school records), and with the concurrence of the coroner (via a signed letter stating the above legal standard has been met to the coroner’s satisfaction), the Judge will then decide if the child would be competent to make decisions after attaining the age of majority (18 in Louisiana). If warranted, then a Judgment of Continuing Tutorship is granted.
The Continuing Tutor, usually one of the parents (sometimes both, if married), will be named by the court to “continue” to be the adult child’s “tutor” (in Louisiana, a guardian is called a “tutor”) in the same capacity as when the child was a minor. For example, the tutor continues to make medical, legal and educational decisions for the child and remains legally responsible for their actions.
We often see families with special needs children who have just reached the age of majority and they are seeking guidance as medical providers for their “adult” special needs child are now asking if an “interdiction” for their child has been done. These providers can no longer speak to the parent about their “adult” child or the child’s health care matters. Unfortunately, because of HIPAA laws and changing times, this has now become the norm. In years gone by, the doctors would still talk to the parents and take all health care instruction from them. The problem is that now medical professionals face severe legal penalties if they continue to do this.
Once a special needs person with profound intellectual disabilities turns 18, there is no option other than an interdiction. An “interdiction” is a Court proceeding where a special needs person is “sued” in order to deem him or her incompetent to manage his or her own affairs. The Court appoints a “legal guardian” (called their “Curator”) to do so. A sheriff must serve the special needs person with the lawsuit, and an attorney is appointed for the special needs person. As you can imagine, this can be a serious process for everyone but especially your special needs child. Not to mention, this court proceeding is costly, time-consuming, and oftentimes humiliating.
Unlike an interdiction, in a Continuing Tutorship proceeding an attorney is not needed for the child, and no court documents are served by the Sheriff. It is often faster, far less expensive, and is definitely a less stressful alternative to an interdiction, but it must be done prior to age 18.
Louisiana Continuing Tutorship Attorneys:
We are a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980 in all matters related to family law and estate planning. If you think your teenaged child would be a candidate for a Continuing Tutorship and/or need interdiction assistance as discussed above, we can help. We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.