As a guiding principle, courts consider what is in the best interest of the child when deciding parenting time arrangements, aka child custody and visitation. However, determining the best interests of a child with a disability is often more complex. In many divorces, the typical visitation arrangement might involve alternating weekends between parents and may include extended visits during school holidays and summer vacations. For children with special needs, it may be more beneficial to minimize frequent adjustments to new environments. A visitation arrangement may require more flexibility and coordination between parents so that the child can participate in activities essential to their well-being and development.
When making a determination for child support or striking a fair division of marital assets and debts, a great deal of consideration must be given to the short term and long term needs of the child. There is often unique medical care or services that the child will need. The child may require special equipment, medication or educational accommodations. It is important to consider not only current expenses, but also the sometimes difficult-to-calculate future expenses of caring for a special needs child when trying to reach a fair divorce agreement.
There are many issues to consider when you have a special needs child in a divorce. Deciding on the best custody and visitation arrangements for your child and determining child support, the division of marital property and even spousal support for a custodial parent providing dedicated care to a disabled child can be challenging. Depending on the age of the child at the time of the divorce, attention must be given to unique issues that arise in the child’s transition into adulthood also.
Fortunately, legislation and case law are evolving in the area of special needs children in divorce and a knowledgeable family law attorney will be able to help you make decisions in your and your child’s best interests. Contact the Law Offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for answers to your questions regarding divorce when you are caring for a disabled child at 847-680-4970.