If someone's parent is a paranoid schizophrenic whose family has been struggling to get proper care due to the parent refusing it (i.e. refusing to take medication). Furthermore, the situation is exacerbated because due to the parent's mental deficiencies has a history of fleeing the care of family members to the point that law enforcement must get assist.

Is there any legal recourse someone can take to assume control of medical decisions on behalf of their parent?

  • 5
    You would likely get better answers if you added a country tag and potentially a state tag. Most likely, there will still be a guardian appointment process, but the details of how you initiate it will be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Note the differences between Australia and the UK in the current answers.
    – mdfst13
    Jan 28 at 5:15
  • 1
    " was arrested in the next state over" So you are in the US, or what does this mean?
    – Polygnome
    Jan 28 at 15:15
  • My condolences on your situation. I've edited the question to be more general in order to mitigate the closure votes. Please affirm I did not change your intent. As others have indicated, it would be prudent to add a state tag because the rules for such things are different in NJ than they would be in FL. Feb 8 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


You can be appointed as their guardian by the court

This is not a trivial process.

First, your mother would have to be determined to be a mentally ill person under Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) - this is a medical process rather than a legal one.

If the Mental Health Review Tribunal decides that your mother is incapable of managing her health, they can apply to the court for someone, possibly you, possibly the Public Trustee, to be appointed guardian under the Trustee and Guardian Act 2009. However, most people with mental illness are capable of managing their health with appropriate support so such applications are vanishingly rare.

If your mother is deemed legally capable, then she can voluntarily appoint anyone she likes as her guardian but as an adult, her wishes supersede the wishes of the guardian while she is legally capable.

I sympathise with your situation, dealing with a relative with mental health issues is difficult and emotionally exhausting. However, this is not an area where the law provides an easy remedy. People, even mentally ill people, are entitled to live their lives how they want and the law is extremely reluctant to force people to undergo medical interventions against their will.

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    While the exact legislation and fine details of the courts involved and their rules differ, an essentially identical approach would be taken in almost every U.S. state (if not all of them).
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 26 at 22:48

You can request that the Office of the Public Guardian take control of their medical decision-making, or request to be made their court-appointed guardian via a process called Guardianship.

There are many situations that can impact on an adult’s ability to make decisions in relation to their finances, health and welfare. This could be due to old age, ill health or other unforeseen circumstances.

If the adult has not previously signed a Power of Attorney authorising someone to act on their behalf, you may need to make an application to have someone appointed as guardian. Once a guardian is appointed, they can act on the adult’s behalf.

When you apply for a Guardianship which includes welfare powers a Mental Health Officer at the local authority will be appointed to consider the suitability of the proposed guardian. Two reports from doctors confirming the adult’s incapacity are also required, one of which requires to be an approved medical practitioner in terms of the legislation. If financial powers are sought it may also be necessary to obtain a report on your suitability as a financial guardian. The reports require to be dated within 30 days of the application to the court for guardianship.

Your Solicitor will assist with the court application to have you appointed as guardian. A court hearing will then be allocated to consider the matter. You will not generally require to attend at the hearing unless you wish to do so. The court will then determine what powers should be granted.

Once a guardianship order has been granted, the court paperwork will be issued to the Office of the Public Guardian who will issue you with your certificate confirming your appointment.

Guardianship Orders: Thorntons Law.

Neither of these are trivially simple or straightforward. You need a solicitor to tell you if either of these are even a realistic option and if the other person has sufficient capacity to hire an opposing solicitor, you'll almost certainly fail in your attempts.

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