Superior Court >Law Library Resource Center >Glossary

Guardianship for Gravely Disabled Persons A person becomes an adult at age 18 and has the rights of an adult, including the right to refuse medical treatment, even treatment for a mental disorder.

Sometimes, a person with a mental disorder may be so severely disabled that someone else must make decisions about his or her mental health treatment.

If the court decides that the person is "gravely disabled," the judge may appoint a Guardian with special authority to make mental health treatment decisions. This Guardian is called a "Title 36 Guardian."

A Title 36 Guardian of a gravely disabled person has the powers and responsibilities of a general Guardian, including duties to provide the ward with food, clothing and shelter, education, rehabilitation, medical care and mental health treatment.

The Guardian must try all medical treatments possible before considering in-patient hospitalization for mental health treatment for the ward. Also, the Title 36 court order will state whether the Title 36 Guardian has the power to admit or readmit the ward to a mental hospital without further court order.

The authority of the Title 36 Guardian ends in 12 months if another court order continuing the Title 36 Guardian's powers is not issued. The judge might order the Guardian's powers renewed for another year.

In some instances a person with a serious mental disorder may need immediate mental health treatment but is unwilling or unable to consent to treatment. In such cases it may be appropriate for the court to order treatment of the person in a mental health facility. If you are faced with this situation, refer to our Resources page to find assistance with emergency mental health treatment.

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