The Blind Side of Probate Court

Probate Court

It does not matter which side you support in the “family” feud of Michael Oher versus Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy, as a family law attorney, I get giddy over a news story that talks about adoption, conservatorship, guardianship, and everything probate court.

Adoptions are one of the only family law matters where families are excited and happy to collaborate with me. Adoptions are a process where families open their homes to extended family members or often non-related children and adults.

Adopting a child can be complicated and comes with restrictions including home studies, biological parental assessments, fingerprints/background checks, and consent of biological parents. Often, a family cannot meet all the requirements and must wait until the child becomes an adult to remove these restrictions.

Adult adoptions are establishing a legal relationship between the adult “child” and the adoptive parents. Once the Court grants an order of adoption, a new birth certificate is issued. Adult adoptions have this in common with child adoptions, BUT the restriction for adopting a child drops away for adult adoptions.

However, in Michael Oher’s case, he alleges he mistakenly signed conservatorship as an adult believing the paperwork was for an adult adoption. Conservatorship is a voluntary request by an individual who is self-diagnosed or diagnosed as mentally incompetent for the probate court to appoint another individual because he or she is unable to manage or function in his or her daily life.

Conservatorship is like guardianship in Ohio with the exception that conservatorship is voluntary and guardianship in not voluntary.

Now the Michael Oher/Tuohy case is in Tennessee, not Ohio, but it will be interesting to see the outcome with the voluntary aspect of conservatorship. Either way, The Blind Side’s true story aspiration would have been sweeter if the Tuohy family adopted Michael Oher.

If you are looking for help with adoption (adult or children), contact Smith & Smith Law Office!