Mother Appointed Guardian of Developmentally Disabled Son

A person signing guardianship papers

In a proceeding before Surrogate Rita Mella in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court both a mother and a father had brought an Article 17A guardianship proceeding under the Surrogate Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”). Each of the parents sought to be appointed the guardian of Elijah J., a developmentally disabled individual. A guardian ad litem (temporary guardian during the court case) was appointed by the court to conduct an investigation as to who would be the more appropriate individual to be the Article 17A guardian for Elijah. The guardian ad litem concluded that the mother was the more appropriate person to be appointed guardian. She had acted as Elijah’s primary caretaker for his entire life.

Evidence Submitted

There was also uncontroverted testimony and documentary evidence submitted that Elijah was indeed a developmentally disabled individual who did not have the capacity to make health care and other decisions for himself. The court decided it would be in Elijah’s best interest for a guardian to be appointed for him.

Father Not Involved with Day to Day Care

The court also found that the father had failed to present evidence of his substantial involvement with Elijah. The father also failed to show that he was familiar with Elijah’s medical care and personal needs. He was also not sufficiently up to date with regard to Elijah’s educational progress. Judge Mella found the father’s failure to establish he had a plan for Elijah’s needs and the fact that he had not participated in raising Elijah or taking care of Elijah would make him an unsuitable person to become Elijah’s guardian. Justice Mella therefore granted the mother’s petition to become Elijah’s guardian. She also appointed the father as the standby guardian (guardian if mother is no longer available for Elijah.

Attorney Elliot Schlissel

The Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel brings guardian cases throughout the Metropolitan New York area both under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Article 17A and under Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law.