You are here:
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
page to find assistance with emergency mental health treatment.