Empowering Independence

Family finds a balance between protection and autonomy

Like many parents of soon-to-be adults, Elisa and Mark Cain wanted to protect their son Max, but they also wanted him to maintain some rights. Max has diagnoses of autism, ADHD and anxiety. They gathered information from different sources, including RSK workshops and from other parents, considering the different options they knew about at the time. The Cain family decided to seek guardianship, with Max retaining some rights.
Now 20, Max lives in his own apartment. He works five days a week at a watch manufacturer. Though his parents have guardianship, Max still has the rights to drive and vote.

“We felt that he still needed extra support in terms of making decisions for himself, especially related to money,” Elisa said. They heard stories about young adults making large purchases or getting into legal trouble with no option for their parents to protect or assist them.

The Cain family completed the guardianship process on their own, hiring a document preparer for the paperwork. They filed documents at the courthouse and represented themselves in an online hearing. Max received a court-appointed attorney through a fee waiver available through the court.

When they sought the required doctor’s report for the guardianship process, Elisa and Mark wanted Max to retain driving rights, even if he wasn’t ready to drive at that time. “We told the doctor there was no way we would put him on the road if we didn’t feel he’d be a safe driver,” Elisa said. “The doctor must have taken that to heart.”

The doctor also asked Max about his interests in politics and voting, other rights his parents wanted him to keep. The doctor included information about Max maintaining these rights in a report, which the family provided to Max’s court-appointed attorney. They received guardianship, with Max retaining driving and voting rights, before his 18th birthday. Max obtained his driver’s license at age 19.

“I feel protected because I feel like I always have a ‘fall back’ if I make a wrong decision,” Max said via email of his guardianship scenario. He knows his parents will be there to support and protect him. “At first, I didn’t know how much control I would have over my adult life, but I have a lot more than I thought I would.”

Max also appreciates retaining some rights, especially driving. “I can be more independent and not have to rely on my parents for everything. It also helped my confidence a lot.” He added that his job helped to increase his confidence, teaching him about deadlines and accountability.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top