Divorce is challenging for kids, but when a child has special needs, the challenges can be even greater. With flexibility, compassion, resilience and care, it’s still possible for you and your ex to work together to help your child thrive. Here are some tips for effectively co-parenting a child with special needs.
Create a Co-Parenting Schedule That Works for You
When your divorce involves a child with special needs, there are special considerations that have to be made. One of the most important actions you can take is establishing a familiar and regular routine that feels comfortable for your child.
A familiar routine means different things for different families. In some families, it can mean that the parent who has been the primary caregiver during the marriage retains primary physical custody after the divorce.
If you’re working with a lawyer who has experience with special needs families, your lawyer may be able to suggest some creative solutions for you.
If parents decide to share physical custody, both parents may have to adjust their homes and routines to accommodate the child’s needs. For example, both parents may need special equipment in their homes, and they may need to work together to make sure that this equipment is similar in both homes.
To Co-Parent Effectively, Communication Is Key
All co-parents need to communicate effectively. But communication is especially critical for the parents of a child with special needs. Both parents need to have the same knowledge of the child’s conditions and treatments. That way, the treatments can be administered correctly and regularly. What’s more, your child’s doctors and specialists will have the information they need to effectively treat your child.
Many families maintain care logs that travel with the child for documenting critical medical information. There are also apps available for families of children with special needs. These apps keep care consistent no matter which parent is with the child.
Many co-parents also take special care to make sure contact information for both parents is listed on any form, that both parents have access to the child’s medical records and that providers share communications with both parents.
Play to Your Co-Parenting Strengths
One way to keep care consistent is to decide with your ex which parent will be responsible for certain elements of the child’s care, and to have that parent lead in those areas.
For example, if one parent has a more flexible work schedule, it may make sense for that parent to take the lead on taking the child to specialist appointments and therapy sessions. Sit down with your co-parent and discuss which responsibilities it makes sense for each of you to own, and which ones you intend to share.
Contact the Schneider Law Firm for Co-Parenting Support
The Schneider Law Firm has significant experience representing parents of special needs children. Our compassionate attorneys would be happy to meet with you, hear what you’re facing, and address co-parenting issues that you and your child face.