Divorce With A Special Needs Child

MLF Team

Divorce With A Special Needs Child


When facing a divorce with a special needs child, the situation becomes more complicated and requires careful consideration from both parents. Ending a marriage while ensuring the well-being of a child with special needs requires additional attention and support. Learn about the ways you can make this process easier for everyone. If you would like to understand your options regarding family law in Georgia, please consider scheduling a consultation with The Millard Law Firm by calling (678) 319-9500.


Managing Divorce With a Special Needs Child


A significant number of households in the United States, approximately 20%, have a child with a chronic illness, disability, or special healthcare requirements, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. For families going through a divorce, the process can be especially complicated when a special needs child is involved. To help during this difficult time, here are some tips for supporting a special needs child.


Create a Parenting Plan


When going through a divorce, many couples seek ways to ease the transition for their child. One practical approach is to establish a parenting plan. Having a plan in place helps to ensure that the child’s needs, especially those requiring additional support, are met. The main goal is to provide the child or children with a sense of safety and security so that they can continue to feel loved and supported by both parents despite their changing circumstances.


Seek Professional Assistance


Developing a parenting plan can be complex, particularly during a divorce with a special needs child. While most parents want to address their children’s needs during this challenging time, families with a special needs child will want to consider some additional factors. Disagreements may arise, especially concerning your child’s requirements. In that situation, parents may seek input from professionals who can evaluate the case and provide recommendations to benefit the special needs child.


Reduce Conflict


A well-designed parenting plan helps minimize conflicts between you and your ex-spouse, benefiting all children. Parents can prioritize meeting their children’s needs by resolving disputes while providing the necessary care and attention during this difficult period. A thoughtfully developed parenting plan can help to establish routines and boundaries that promote stability and consistency, which are especially critical for many children with special needs.


Consider All Your Children’s Needs


Every family has a unique dynamic, and siblings may have varying needs. Understanding and catering to these needs is crucial to promote positive sibling relationships and ensure the well-being of each child. Take the nature of the sibling relationship into account and work towards overcoming challenges and building stronger connections. Additionally, evaluate if one child needs additional individual time with each parent and ensure each child receives the necessary attention and support to avoid feelings of neglect or resentment.


Involve Siblings


Families with a child who has special needs may face additional challenges. Siblings may need to take on a caretaking role, which can become more noticeable during a divorce. Seek extra help and resources to support the child with special needs, communicate openly with all your children about their own and their siblings’ needs, and establish clear boundaries.


Share Parenting Time


Traditional custodial schedules may not be suitable for a child with special needs who struggles with transitions. Explore alternative arrangements, such as nesting, in which the parents, rather than the children, rotate between two homes for purposes of custody and caretaking. Arrangements such as these can help to provide stability and consistency for a child with special needs. In families with multiple children, it may be helpful to consider different schedules for the siblings based on their individual needs.


Plan Ahead


Whatever arrangement parents choose, they should ensure that the parenting plan supports the well-being of all the children. Aim to build a positive relationship with your co-parent so that you can work together to meet the needs of all the children.


Plan for Financial Ramifications


Divorce often entails financial challenges, including increased costs for household management. Untangling financial ties can be challenging, especially considering the financial implications of maintaining two separate households. Parents will want to consider the costs for:


  • Housing
  • Food
  • Childcare
  • Education
  • Medical expenses
  • Clothing
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation


These concerns may be more pressing when a child has special needs since the primary caregiver may have been unable to maintain consistent employment outside the family home. Working with a divorce lawyer or financial planner can help parents to plan for these increased expenses and determine the proper approach. Reach out to the Millard Law Firm to learn about possible financial concerns for a divorce with a special needs child.


Plan for Long-Term Needs


When going through a divorce, it is important to prioritize the future care and financial support of any special needs children involved. Parents can take several steps to ensure their child’s well-being is accounted for during and after the divorce process. One way to do this is by incorporating provisions for their care in the divorce settlement and in each parent’s estate planning documents. One option to consider is establishing a special needs trust. This type of trust allows parents to set aside funds for their child’s care while preserving potential eligibility for public assistance, typically via government programs such as Social Security.


Divorcing parents may also be helpful to consult an experienced attorney for advice on gifting plans or long-term care insurance to ensure ongoing support despite unexpected expenses or changes. By taking these proactive measures, parents can help ensure that their child’s needs will be met and that they have the resources they need to thrive in the future.


Use All Available Resources


When divorcing, always consider the unique needs of all children, including a special needs child. Evaluate available resources and support systems to create a comprehensive plan addressing their requirements and providing necessary care and support. Parents may want to work closely with an attorney to assess their children’s medical, educational, and emotional needs. Parents can ensure their child’s continued growth and stability by incorporating these considerations into the divorce settlement. Prioritizing the children’s needs ensures their well-being and provides parents with peace of mind during the divorce process.


Reach Out to a Georgia Family Law Attorney


Navigating a divorce with a special needs child requires careful consideration and proactive planning. By prioritizing their long-term needs, creating a comprehensive parenting plan, and addressing financial concerns, you can help ensure the well-being and stability of your family during this challenging time. You may want to seek guidance from an experienced law firm. Consider scheduling a consultation with the Millard Law Firm by calling (678) 319-9500 to learn more about handling these types of divorces.