Legal Memorandum: Custody of Adult Disabled Children

Issue: Do cases from outside of Minnesota demonstrate that the Family Court retains jurisdiction over issues relating to the custody of adult disabled children of divorce?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Custody of adult disabled children; Continuing jurisdiction over care
Jurisdiction: Minnesota, Ohio
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 518A.26, subds. 1, 5
Date: 09/01/2011

In In re Guardianship of Campbell, No. 05 MA 10 (Ohio Ct. App. Mar. 31, 2006) (unpublished), the divorced parents of about-to-turn-eighteen-year-old Jay, who was autistic, filed counter-petitions for guardianship of Jay’s person and estate.  Earlier, when the parties were divorced, they had entered into a shared parenting agreement, which was incorporated in the divorce decree.  The court considering the guardianship petitions concluded that the domestic relations court had continuing jurisdiction over Jay’s custody, even after he turned eighteen, due to his disability and based on the prior shared parenting agreement.  The trial court therefore dismissed the petitions on jurisdictional grounds, and the mother appealed.  Id.

On appeal, the Ohio Court of Appeals observed, as Minnesota courts have done, that once a court issues a divorce decree, it retains continuing jurisdiction over the custody of the child involved in that divorce.  Id. Although a child generally reaches the age of majority at the age of eighteen years or more, “parents of a disabled child continue to be subject to the child custody and support orders of a divorce decree even after the child’s eighteenth birthday, due to the ongoing legal disability of the child.”  Id.  Thus, the domestic relations court was in fact vested with continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over Jay, due to the prior shared parenting agreement and Jay’s continuing disability.  Id.  That is,

[w]here a court . . . , on rendering a decree of divorce, further decrees the “custody, care and […]


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