An infographic that explains the cost for getting guardianship for a child with a developmental disability in Florida, using the expedited guardian advocate application process.
If you have a child with a developmental disability and live in Florida, you probably already know that, when your child turns 18, you will lose all of your parental rights. This means that your child must make all major decisions for himself, including authorizing healthcare, executing financial transactions, choosing a place to live and more.
For some young adults with a developmental disability, this may be impractical, if not outright unsafe.
To protect your child, you may be thinking about getting guardianship, and are naturally curious about the costs.
We’ve put together an infographic that summarized the 7 main expenses related to getting guardianship based on the expedited guardian advocate process for adults with developmental disabilities.
Summary of Costs to Get Guardianship For a Child With Special Needs
|Cost||No Attorney||With Attorney|
|Court Filing Fee||$235||$400|
|Ward’s Attorney||$750 – $1,250||$750 – $1,250|
|Postage for Notices||$50||$0|
|Attorney Fee||$0||$1,500 – $6000|
|Total||$1,195 – $1,695||$2,060 – $6,560|
Be Prepared, It’s Going to Cost Something
You can potentially get guardianship completed for just under $250. This would require you to file for civil indigent status to get the court fees and fees for the attorney for the ward waived. This will depend on a number of things, including when you file your application, and your assets and income, and that of the ward. It would also require you to file your guardian advocate application without the help of a lawyer (unless you qualify for free legal services from legal aid).
There are a few expenses that you may not be able to get out of. The guardian advocate training class costs around $100, and each judicial circuit has it’s one vendor that it requires you to use.
It’s possible that you can ask the court to waive the training requirement, but it’s been my experience that most judges prefer guardians to take the course.
Similarly, you can request that the background check be waived, but again, judges prefer that guardians complete the background check, which costs about $10 to have your fingerprints taken (depending on where you do this), and about $40 for the background check to be completed.
Attorneys are the Biggest Expense
Attorneys fees are the biggest expense in guardianship.
By law, your child must have their own attorney, who is appointed by the court. These attorneys typically get paid by the hour at a court approved rate. Rates can vary from $175 to about $300 per hour depending on your location.
The more complicated your situation is, the more expensive this costs.
As the applicant, you are responsible for fronting the cost of this expense. But you can petition the court to get this fee reimbursed from the ward’s assets.
There is no legal requirement for the applicant to be represented by a lawyer, and it is possible to do it alone.
From experience, the guardianship process can get confusing and if you decide to go it alone, make sure you have some resource where you can ask questions.
If filing without a lawyer makes you nervous, one affordable option is to use a self-help legal service (like Guardian Project’s live online course). Fees will range based on the level of help you get, but expect to pay just under $500.
Many parents just want to have an attorney handle the whole thing for them. The prices for legal fees vary. In Flagler County where I live (and things are exceedingly affordable), you can find a lawyer to represent you for $1,500 for a simple, uncontested guardian advocate filing. In Palm Beach County, you can expect to pay up to $3,000 or more for the same service.
You can petition the court to get this fee reimbursed by the ward, provided they have assets or income to pay.
For other frequently asked questions about getting guardianship in Florida, see our Ultimate Florida Guardianship FAQ.
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