FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-04-30
Any divorce involving children is inherently complex. Yet, parents of children with special needs face a number of unique challenges when putting their divorce arrangements in place.
A Phoenix complex custody lawyer may be your best resource for help in working out a reasonable parenting plan for your special needs child. However, even a brief introduction to some of the distinctive issues you may face can prove beneficial to both you and your child.
Visitation, Custody, Child Support and More Must be Individually Tailored
The guiding principle behind any custody and co-parenting terms in divorce settlement is the best interests of the child. Regardless of whether you come to an agreement with your former spouse about such issues, this is the standard a court will use to guide its ultimate ruling; it is the lens through which you should view divorce decisions pertaining to your child.
Precise, detail-oriented parenting plans can be very important in a divorce involving children with special needs. A comprehensive parenting plan should lay out the requirements of a special needs child’s medication regiment, behavioral management strategies and necessary accommodations pertaining to physical environment. Going into as much detail as possible will prevent parenting conflicts down the road, and better ensure that your special needs child receives the consistent care he or she requires. It should also be made clear who will be responsible for making future parenting decisions — and, if parents are to share decision-making authority, how disagreements will be settled.
Although even the minutest details cannot be glossed over where a special needs child is concerned, the big picture is equally important: visitation schedules and custody plans that work for the average family may not be adequate for your child. Structure and familiar routines can be particularly valuable to a special needs child, meaning that traditional custody staples like overnight visits or extensive travel may have to be worked around, or at least carefully scrutinized.
Finally, there are the financial aspects of the divorce to take into account. Special needs children may require costly therapy, equipment and education; this potentially means adjustments to standard child support figures, structuring allocations of marital assets such that your child will be eligible for government benefits for children with disabilities and coming to terms with other monetary realities.
Get Help From a Divorce Expert
With the wellbeing of a special needs child in your hands, there is no doubt you will have to overcome barriers above and beyond those encountered by many divorcing couples. Even so, at a fundamental level, special needs children are just like any other kids: they need their parents to express love, devotion and attention to their individualistic attributes.
If you are the parent of a special needs child and divorce is looming on the horizon, get the help you need. Contact an attorney with experience in handling divorces which involve special needs children today.