Divorce and special needs children

All children are unique. Therefore, each child responds to divorce differently. Reactions can vary depending on the age of your child. For example, emotional maturity affects the way they cope with change and possible conflict. It is important that parents concentrate on more than just the legal responsibilities of divorce. Additionally, parents should spend time helping the child adjust. For children with special needs, decision-making becomes even more complex. 

There are some important things divorcing parents should consider when making arrangements for their special needs child, which includes:

  • Cost of care. Special needs children often require caregivers, occupational therapy and out-of-pocket care. It is important to organize these costs in a divorce agreement. Who is paying for what?
  • Child custody. Some children adjust well to spending certain amounts of time with each parent. However, special needs children often benefit from structure. Visitation schedules may require more consistency. It is important to consider creating a reliable routine, with room for flexibility.
  • Parenting plan. You and your ex-spouse should create a day-to-day parenting plan that includes detailed care for your child. For example, outline any special diets or schedules for taking medication.
  • Benefit eligibility. Another important thing to consider is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You want to structure child support payments and alimony around your child’s benefits. Often, losing SSI translates into losing health care coverage.

Taking care of your special needs child is typically a full-time job, and often affects income. This should be considered when establishing spousal support. In these situations, a divorce agreement usually maps out long-term care and include special needs trusts. By taking the necessary steps, you can care for your child while finalizing a divorce.