Parents of special needs children face additional issues that have the potential to complicate their divorce. Dependent upon the nature of the disability, the immediate and long term needs educationally, financially and emotionally the issues both parents face are substantial.
Often before the above issues can even begin resolution there must be an agreement as to what type of custody and parenting schedule will the parents need. Are both parents in agreement as to the child's needs? Are both parents in agreement with the diagnosis and course of treatment or education for the child? If the parents cannot agree on the basics or trust each other to work jointly to make these decisions the court may need to make the decision as to which parent will either be the custodial parent or in charge of educational and/or medical decisions for the child, subject to court review in the event of a major disagreement. However, the reality is that most parents cannot afford to return to court when they disagree on parenting decisions, so therefore resolving this issue is very important.
Issues of financial support and responsibility for the disabled child are substantial. Will the child be able to overcome the limitations caused by the disability or will the child need a lifetime of support and care? Will one parent have to sacrifice their ability to earn and have a career to be available for the child or will
maintenance be necessary? Are there other non-disabled chlidren in the family and how will their support be impacted by the needs of the disabled sibling? Are special accomodations necessary for the home? What extra services will be necessary for the child's health or educational success including tutoring, aides and specialized equipment?
When choosing a divorce attorney a relevant question would be whether the attorney has represented other parents of special needs children. Perhaps the attorney is the parent of a special needs child and is personally familiar with the special issues raised.
Over the 30 years that I have been an attorney, not only I have raised a child with special needs but I have represented many parents in need of that extra understanding and attention. Please call my office so that i may help you navigate the many issues involved in your unique situation.