Turning 18, Guardianship & Other Options

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Turning 18

An 18-year-old is an adult and presumed to be able to handle his or her own affairs unless a legal proceeding gives some or all the responsibility for him or her to a parent or guardian.

An 18 year old person has more rights, more risks and more responsibilities.

There are several things that change when youth turn 18:

1. When they turn 18, young people acquire the rights and access to records that their parents or guardian had exercised, including:

  • the right to be notified and consent to evaluations;
  • the right to invite additional participants to IEP meetings;
  • the right to be notified and consent to specialized education and related services. Parents are still notified of meetings regarding their child’s education, even after he or she turns 18, but the rights of the parent are transferred to the student.
  • Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, an 18-year- old can give his or her parents or other adults access to educational records by signing a release.

2. Young people who received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for a disability may lose them as adults, depending on the nature of their disabilities. An 18-year-old receiving SSI benefits should expect to have his or her eligibility re-determined — using a different, adult disability standard — in the month before the 18th birthday.

3. The health insurance may change. Florida law requires dependent coverage to be offered until the dependent is age 30. Adults whose health insurance covers youth should check their policies.

4. An 18-year-old is old enough to vote. Americans may vote at age 18 unless declared incompetent by a court of law. To register in Florida, one must turn 18 by Election Day and be a U.S. citizen and a legal resident of the county in which one plans to vote. Young people are eligible to register to vote at age 16, or anytime thereafter. Voter registration forms are available at many government offices, and from county supervisors of elections. Voting is an important way to have a say about the laws and policies that affect you.

See our Voting Rights topic for more information about voting rights.

5. Young men are required to register for military service. All males are required to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18 unless institutionalized or hospitalized.