Ohio Supreme Court Announces New Rules for Adult Guardianship Cases

The Ohio Supreme Court recently announced new rules and practices that will significantly impact Ohio's adult guardianship system. The Supreme Court recently adopted Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio 66.01 - 66.09, which will provide streamline and harmonize guardianship rules across the state. The revised rules were first published for public comment in May 2014. And after months of receiving comments, the new rules will finally be adopted and will take effect on June 1.

Prior to these new rules, the 88 counties throughout Ohio had to devise their own rules and standards regarding court-appointed guardians. As a result, a disjointed patchwork of rules and requirements was spread throughout the state. Now, all 88 counties in Ohio will have to follow the same basic set of requirements concerning court appointment of guardians for individuals who cannot care for themselves, which include children, the elderly, and the mentally disabled.

New Guardianship Rules and Practices

The new comprehensive rules require guardians to undergo training, monitoring and background checks, and meetings with wards every three months. Prior to guardian appointment, the new rules require a six-hour guardian fundamentals course provided by the Supreme Court. Topics cover establishing guardianship; the ongoing duties and responsibilities of a guardian; record keeping and reporting duties of a guardian; and other topics that concern improving the quality of the life of a ward. There are also continuing education requirements for guardians.

Furthermore, the rules provide for enhanced oversight from the courts. In particular, prior to appointing a guardianship, the court must conduct a criminal background check. Guardians appointed by the court are also required to submit documents evidencing compliance with the guardianship qualifications.

New Rules Are a Positive Step Forward

The new rules have been met with favorable reviews from lawmakers, judges, and guardians. Beverley Laubert, chief of the Ohio Department of Aging Elder Rights Division and State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, said "the rules are a welcome change, not only as standards for guardians, but also as expectations for court oversight." Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor also believes that the new rules are important because they "raise the level of professionalism among guardians in the state."

Julia Nack, a certified master guardian and the director of the volunteer guardianship program at the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, believes the new rules are "positive steps forward." She cautioned, however, that more still needs to be done and the new rules are "not as rigorous as the national standards envision." Specifically, Nack, who served on the committee that drafted the rules, would have liked stricter training and visitation requirements. One reason that the rules are not as strict as some might have hoped is because the drafters did not want to make the rules so onerous that they would significantly limit the number of people who could or would become guardians.

Contact a Cleveland Family Law Attorney

If you have any questions regarding the new rules governing court-appointed guardians or guardianship in general, Laubacher & Co.'s family law attorneys can help answer your questions. Laubacher & Co.'s attorneys have experience in a variety of family law matters, including divorce, child custody and adoption, spousal support, and domestic violence.

Contact our Cleveland divorce law attorneys today for a free consultation. Call us now 440-462-1882 or visit our office at 20525 Center Ridge Road, Suite 626, in Rocky River.

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