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What You Need to Know About Divorce If You Have Children with Special Needs

Divorce can be extremely complicated for parents who have children with special needs. Even when these spouses have an amicable divorce, there still tends to be many other obstacles they must contend with throughout their divorce proceedings. The needs that children with disabilities have can impact the outcome of the divorce settlement. From debating parenting schedules to figuring out which parent will receive alimony and spousal support, it is crucial for parents of children with special needs to consider how their situation will affect the divorce process. Below, we explain important things that parents should consider if they have children with disabilities and plan to get divorced.

Common Parental Disagreements

Divorcing parents tend to disagree about numerous things. However, parents who have children with special needs often disagree about the following things:

  • The types of medical treatments their children should undergo
  • Special dieting plans for their children
  • If their children should be seen by an alternative medicine practitioner
  • The medical provider their children should visit
  • What school their children should attend
  • If their children should see a therapist

If you have children with special needs and you plan to divorce your spouse, you should ask your attorney about which laws in your state can impact your ability to make decisions for your children. Some states allow one parent to be designated as the sole authorizer of major decisions for the children when both parents can’t reach an agreement about joint decisions. Other states have laws that require parents to make decisions about their children together.

If parents aren’t able to make major decisions for their disabled children together, then they should speak with their lawyers about how to obtain a court order that will allow one of them to make major decisions about their children’s medical, therapeutic, religious, and educational needs. Parents can also get assistance from a professional mediator who can facilitate an agreement for major decisions regarding the special needs of the children.

Extraordinary Expenses

When it comes to calculating an appropriate amount of child support, each state has its own process. Courts usually consider the following factors when deciding about child support agreements:

  • Monthly income
  • Work-related day care costs
  • The number of children each parent has
  • Health insurance expenses
  • The age of the children
  • The amount of time each parent spends with their children

If you are divorcing and have children with special needs, you should never assume that the judge will automatically account for extra expenses that are needed to care for your children. Divorced parents of special needs children should create a list of the following expenses:

  • Education
  • Daycare
  • Tutoring
  • Child therapy
  • Special diets
  • Uninsured medical expenses
  • Special hygiene products
  • Necessary items like wheelchairs, walkers, car mobility aids, etc.

Divorced parents need to discuss these extraordinary expenses with their legal representative to determine how they should be paid for and allocated between each parent.

When discussing child support with your attorney, ask about the amount of time that child support can be ordered for children with special needs. Some states terminate the parent’s child support obligation when their children turn 18 years old. Other states let parents make additional child support payments after their children turn 18, and if they attend a qualifying college. In some states, adult children who have disabilities and can’t earn their own income are entitled to receive child support.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney Today

Do you have children with special needs? Are you about to divorce your spouse? If so, you should speak to our lawyers about how to approach your divorce settlement. We can inform you about how to create long-term care plans for future financial support and explain how to make sure your children with special needs are able to receive future state and federal assistance from programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

Call (888) 224-1218 to schedule your free consultation with our team of Bergen County divorce attorneys.