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Divorce: What Happens to Special Needs Children

Published: 2013/12/28 - Updated: 2021/02/26
Author: Simon W. Hendershot III - Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C. - Contact: khcfortbendfamilylaw.com
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Synopsis: Information regarding divorce of parents with a special needs child if they decide to end their marriage and ensuring the well-being of their child. Depending on the extent of a child's need or disability, a divorce may need to take into account the child's needs as an adult. To make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, divorcing parents may need to consult outside experts.

Main Digest

Divorce is difficult for all members of a family, but it can be particularly challenging for children with disabilities. When parents of a disabled child or child with special needs decide to end their marriage, they need to take extra care to ensure the well-being of their child during divorce proceedings and after a divorce is final.

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The term special needs can refer to a broad range of issues, including physical disabilities, medical conditions, autism, emotional problems, developmental delays and disabilities, learning disabilities, and other needs. Children facing such issues may have a greater need for a stable routine and security, which can be disrupted during divorce. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, a divorce decree can be specifically tailored to the current and future needs of a child with a disability.

Determining Best Interests of a Disabled Child

As part of divorce proceedings, parents are awarded certain rights and responsibilities to their children. In Texas, these rights and responsibilities are called conservatorship.

Carefully allocating these responsibilities is critical for parents of children with disabilities, because they often need extensive medical care, educational services and other unique considerations.

To make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, divorcing parents may need to consult outside experts. They will need to make decisions about:

Possession

This is the time a parent spends with a child.

Parents of children with special needs may need to carefully structure their parenting plan to work with their children's needs. For example, a typical visitation schedule may not work for your child, and you may need to make special arrangements for your child and any necessary equipment to travel between households.

Support

Children with special needs may require expensive care.

To make sure that the financial responsibilities are adequately allocated, support arrangements may need to deviate from standard guidelines. If a parent must stay home to care for a special-needs child, this lost opportunity to earn income may factor into spousal maintenance or alimony.

Education

Children with disabilities often receive special education at school.

As part of a divorce, parents need to agree on who can make decisions about the child's education and how the costs of extra educational expenses will be covered.

These are only some of the factors that parents of special-needs children must consider for their child's immediate future. Parents in these situations may also need to consider their child's unique future needs as well.

Depending on the extent of a child's need or disability, a divorce may need to take into account the child's needs as an adult.

Guardianship, post-secondary education and living arrangements may all need to be taken into consideration because some children with special needs may not reach independence at the same rate that other children do.

An Attorney Can Help

If you have a special-needs child and are considering a divorce, hiring the right attorney is important to help you reach a divorce agreement that takes into account your child's special needs and situation. Experienced family law attorneys will become familiar with your child's disability or needs and will help you create an appropriate plan for your child.

Attribution/Source(s):

This quality-reviewed article relating to our Disability Lawyers and Rights section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Divorce: What Happens to Special Needs Children" was originally written by Simon W. Hendershot III - Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C., and published by Disabled-World.com on 2013/12/28 (Updated: 2021/02/26). Should you require further information or clarification, Simon W. Hendershot III - Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C. can be contacted at khcfortbendfamilylaw.com. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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Cite This Page (APA): Simon W. Hendershot III - Kerr, Hendershot & Cannon, P.C.. (2013, December 28). Divorce: What Happens to Special Needs Children. Disabled World. Retrieved September 30, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/legal/divorce.php

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