Pro Se Materials Now Available for Caregivers Seeking Guardianship of Adults with Developmental Disabilities
For further information contact:
Winnie Comfort, AOC
Tammy Kendig, AOC
For release: Feb. 28, 2002
Parents seeking guardianship of persons receiving services from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) now may use a packet of forms and instructions provided by the Judiciary, Judge Richard J. Williams, administrative director of the courts, announced today.
The packet is designed for pro se litigants (that is, those who represent themselves in court) to obtain guardianship of an incapacitated person who is older than 18 and receiving services from DDD. In such cases, a parent or other relative typically seeks authority to make decisions concerning the living arrangements, finances and estate of an adult who is unable to manage his or her own affairs because of developmental disabilities.
"There are many reasons why self-representation in court becomes a choice or a necessity for these families," said Judge Williams. "We are pleased to provide these materials for people seeking to make the best possible arrangements for their loved ones who are developmentally disabled."
For a caregiver to obtain guardianship, the person with developmental disabilities must be considered incapacitated by both the DDD and an independent medical physician or psychologist. State regulations require that a guardianship recommendation must be founded upon a sound clinical basis and every effort must be made to seek a solution that is the least restrictive and intrusive to the person's life as possible.
The packet contains information on what to expect in court, forms, definitions and concise, step-by-step directions; however, it also includes a statement suggesting that litigants consider obtaining legal representation: "The court system can be confusing and it is a good idea to get a lawyer if you can," it states. Information on how to find legal representation also is included.
The Judiciary's Ad Hoc Working Group on Pro Se Materials developed the new packet over the last several months with extensive input from judges, court staff and surrogates. Additional pro se materials are available for small claims cases, appeals of municipal court judgments, and special civil cases.
The packet is available at surrogates' offices and on the Judiciary Web Site at www.njcourtsonline.com.