What Is Different About Divorce When You Have a Special-Needs Child?

Many parents struggle with co-parenting. It’s particularly more challenging to deal with when their child has special needs.

Children with special needs often have regular standing appointments and set routines that they must stick to. They also use heavy equipment. Feeding them or administering drugs can be involved. Only someone with specialized expertise may be able to handle such concerns.

These considerations make it a challenge to institute typical visitation schedules and determine the expenses necessary to request support.

Factors That May Affect Special Needs Kids’ Custody Schedules

A special needs child requires a heightened level of care and attention. It’s not uncommon for one parent to quit their job or ask for sole physical custody, or the combination thereof, to provide their special needs child with the around-the-clock care they require.

Parents of special needs children are also likely to have to come up with alternate custodial arrangements such as bird nest parenting whereby the child remains in a home with mom and dad swapping out time with them. One parent may retain visitation rights in instances in which such an arrangement doesn’t work out.

Alternate arrangements like these are often necessary to avoid parents having to move heavy medical equipment between homes. Longer stays at each parent’s home with the transfer of the equipment between them may also be an option.

Costs Associated With Raising a Special Needs Child

Many parents of special needs children may need to summon transportation or buy a specially equipped vehicle to get them to school and doctors’ visits. These are costs that may need to be negotiated as part of child support discussions.

Child or spousal support may also need to be negotiated to cover the costs associated with a mom or dad being the primary caregiver and to pay for any uncovered medical expenses.

Parents may find themselves supporting their special needs child beyond their 18th or 21st birthday. They may need to collaborate in applying for Medicaid, Social Security Disability, and other government benefits on their child’s behalf.

Where to Gain Insight on Divorce and Raising a Special Needs Child

Many advocacy groups serve as valuable resources for parents of special needs children at different life stages, such as divorce. You can also find a wealth of information about this topic with legal support.

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