Concerns for Divorcing Parents of a Special Needs Child


Raising a child with special needs due to physical or developmental delays can pose a great strain on a marriage. Average conflicts that arise in a marriage still exist, while concerns about money are augmented by worries about being able to afford the best possible therapy and education for your child, and worries over whether you’re giving your child the best possible chances in life are made harder to bear by knowing that there’s nothing you or your spouse can do to make your child’s life entirely “normal.” These types of strain are the reason that parents of special needs children have a higher-than-average divorce rate. Concerns unique to those with special needs also arise as legal issues in divorce for these parents, as well. Read on to learn more about issues to keep in mind when seeking a divorce as a parent of special needs children.

Ensure that child support is sufficient to meet your child’s needs

Caring for a child with developmental delays or physical disabilities can be emotionally and physically challenging, and can also be extremely expensive. These children often require expensive medical care and therapy, possibly even in-home care. If you wish to seek physical custody, ensure that you have created a detailed budget that anticipates future medical and therapeutic costs, upcoming procedures, and future care needs when determining what would be a necessary amount for child support. Additionally, be sure to speak with your attorney about determining your options for government assistance wherever eligible.

Plan ahead for future care needs

While your child may be young now, do not neglect to plan for their adulthood. If you believe that your child will need a substantial amount of care for the remainder of their lives, you may want to create a joint savings account or trust with your co-parent at the time of the divorce, to ensure that you both set funds aside to care for your child in the future.

Communication is critical

While many children have busy schedules of extracurricular activities, special needs children frequently have complex schedules of doctor visits and therapy appointments. These complex schedules can become even more difficult to remember once you and your former spouse are no longer living in the same home. Software programs such as “Our Family Wizard can help you ensure that both parents are on the same page and operating off the same calendar, without having to communicate directly with someone with whom you tend to fight.

If you are facing divorce in New Jersey and need compassionate, knowledgeable, and determined legal assistance with your case, contact the Edgewater and Moonachie family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss for a consultation, at 201-440-6300.

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