Divorce considerations for parents raising a special needs child

When two parents divorce, there are a number of agreements that need to be reached. But, when the parents of a special needs child go through a divorce, even more complications can arise. However, with the right planning when going through the divorce, the future can become a lot less frustrating both for the parents and the child.

One thing to keep in mind is child support. While states either require the noncustodial parent to make payments until the child graduates high school, turns 19 or turns 21, a special needs child may never be able to live independently and will continue to need care. One way to deal with this dilemma is to set up a trust during the divorce process. This could help ensure that the finances are still there to help care for the child even well into adulthood.

Child custody is also another area of a divorce that needs careful consideration. For example, is joint custody really the best decision? Or would the child be able to function better in the same environment with the same routine? If the child is physically disabled, now is also the time to make sure that both parents’ homes are equipped in a way that meets the needs of the child.

Just like in any family situation, decisions regarding parenting can also end up being a major point of contention. However, with a special needs child, parents may need to have even more communication with each other when it comes to making decisions regarding school and health care well into the future. There should also be an understanding that making these decisions can require working with outside professionals and can be a time consuming task.

In the end, what’s important to realize is that it is possible to have successful co-parenting when it comes to raising a child with special needs. However, it is important to talk with a legal professional in order to make sure that as a father your voice is being heard and that the best interests of your child are kept at the forefront.

Source: Huffington Post, “Listen to Our Children in Need: Special Needs Children and Divorce,” Sherri Donovan, May 4, 2012

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