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Divorcing With A Special Needs Child


Divorces are challenging under any circumstances. However, if two parents are facing a divorce and have a special needs child, their concerns are greater regarding the emotional and financial protection of their child. The complexity involved in caring for a special needs child can compound an already difficult situation. Children with special needs oftentimes need greater attention, and more financial resources for medical bills or therapy. Understanding your legal rights can help you as you move forward with decisions regarding child custody arrangements and child support agreements.

Special Needs Children

Special needs children are all different and each faces their own distinct set of challenges. Whether a special needs child has emotional or physical challenges, both parents will be charged by the court to handle the financial, physical and emotional needs of that child. However, special needs children may require additional considerations such as substantial doctor’s visits or physical therapy. In some cases, a parent may be required to stay at school with the child throughout the day, or help them with their speech or physical therapy. The court will always look to see what is in the “best interest of the child” and special needs children are no different. The court will examine what the child needs and then make their best determination how to develop a child custody and support agreement that will best benefit the child.

In the cases of special needs children, additional considerations need to be made as well regarding their future. In some circumstances, special needs children will never be able to live independently, and therefore their physical and financial futures need to be thought of much more than another child who would be emancipated under normal circumstances at the age of 18.

Child Custody Issues

A special needs child will have certain needs that other children will not, and the court will likely factor those needs into any child custody arrangements that are determined. For example, if one parent needs to be at school with the child all day, or has therapy or medical appointments near one home, and the parent is willing to take them weekly to those appointments, the child custody arrangement could look very different to that of a divorce without special needs children. Again, the court will always look to see what is in the best interest of the child. In fact, in some cases, a court may order that one parent visit the child in the other parent’s home if it would be emotionally beneficial for the child. Any deviation from a typical custody schedule can be considered when special needs children are involved in child custody decisions.

Child Support Matters

Just as child custody issues will be different for divorces involving special needs children, so will child support matters. If one parent must have almost total physical custody due to medical appointments, special schooling or other necessary therapies, it may mean that the other parent will have to pay more in child support. One parent may simply be unable to work due to the special needs requirements of the child. The court will take all of these unique circumstances into consideration as they make both child custody and child support decisions.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Every parent wants to ensure that they have time with their child, and those parents of special needs children face additional challenges in the divorce process. Contact an experienced divorce attorney that can help ensure your legal rights, and the rights of your special needs child are protected. Contact our legal team at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. at 954-467-6656 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today.





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