Approximately 40-50% of marriages within the United States end in divorce. Some of these divorces involve special needs children and children dealing with disabilities of all forms: physical, learning, emotional and behavioral. The divorce process can become extremely complex if there are children with special needs involved.
Planning for Medical Care & Long-Term Expense
Special needs children must have access to medical care in many forms. For example, the child will need access to advanced medical care but may need behavioral healthcare as well. Although child support and insurance may cover a bulk of these expenses, they won’t cover it all.
For some children with severe disabilities, long-term care may be required, even after they turn 18. Some of these expenses may include long-term or permanent medical care, as well as skilled care housing facilities.
Each spouse must work together and consider these expenses as they negotiate asset division during divorce. For example, assets received by the child may hinder their ability to qualify for government benefits. Plus, other financial safeguards such as trusts may be required to fully protect the child in the future.
Visitation & Custody Considerations
Depending on the severity of the child’s disability, traditional visitation and custody arrangements may not be what’s best. For example, switching back and forth every other week may wreak havoc on a child’s wellbeing. All children need structure, especially during life-changing situations such as divorce.
Parents must also determine who’s responsible for transporting the child to and from medical appointments, school and other activities. This may also directly affect a visitation and custody arrangement, especially if the child’s transportation needs are complex.
The Bottom Line: You Must Plan Ahead
If you and your spouse are considering a divorce involving a special needs child, you must be willing to compromise and work together to plan ahead. We recommend working with a professional attorney who can help you understand the legal implications of your divorce and to create a plan that will best protect your child.
Don’t Try to Handle the Complexity Alone
You and your child deserve to feel protected as you journey through the divorce process. An attorney can help. To learn more about your options, reach out to our Arlington, TX, law firm today by calling 817-799-7125.