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Child support and special needs children

If children could care for themselves, the question of child support would be easily resolvable. Yet all children need differing amounts of care, and how much child support should be provided has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

A Florida mother is taking care of a 20-year old autistic son who is over six feet tall and weighs more than 250 pounds. The son has a vocabulary of around 200 words, and he often can only be calmed down by being medicated with Thorazine. The mother, whose job of raising her son lasts 24 hour a day for 365 days a year has no idea who is going to take care of her son as he grows older.

The Florida woman was divorced a few years ago and states that she is always on the verge of financial collapse. Her son is destructive and she does not always have the money to pay for the damage caused by him. At one point she did have employees of the state help out at one point, but she discovered that such state employees were not prepared to deal with the problems that her child presented.

She hopes that eventually she will able to place her son in a facility through state resources. However, in the meantime she must make do with what she can.

In a perfect world, all child support payments could be relinquished when the child in question becomes an adult. Yet this will not always be in the best interest of the child in all cases as there will always be children with special needs that will continue to require assistance into adulthood.

When a child has special needs, support will be needed from both parents at the very least for such circumstances to be even manageable. The support of such a child should be foreseen by the attorney that assists the spouses during a divorce, and provisions should be made for the care of that child into his adulthood.

It is unfair to place this burden upon just one parent and this ultimately deprives the child of the care that he or she needs.

Source: The Florida Times-Union, "Jacksonville mother feels the pain of caring for 20-year old autistic son," March 15, 2012

1 Comment

Thank you for bringing this subject up. It's always amazed me that child support for a severely disabled child doesn't warrant extended years of child support. Indeed, many of these children are "forever children" and require a substantial amount of extra support. All too often, absent fathers (and sometimes mothers) haven't helped. I would like to see legislation passed that observes this reality. Child support should continue for as long as the disabled child needs extraordinary support. The magical age of 18 doesn't change the reality so many of us with disabled children face as our children age.

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