Special Needs Child

Divorce and Its Impact on Special Needs Kids

Divorce is a difficult time for all children, but it can be even more complicated when special needs are involved. Both parents must take the necessary steps to ensure that all legal matters and decisions are made in the best interests of their children.

Divorce complicates meeting the needs of disabled children. Often, there are several kids in the family, and not all of them require special medical attention. Families must create stable environments where they meet each child’s needs.

Here are some ways that having a child with special needs can impact the outcomes of a divorce.

Preserving the Parents’ Rights

Determining custody of special needs children can be delicate. The court must consider the rights of both parents along with the best interests of the child.

Both spouses must provide their insight and understanding throughout the proceedings. Doing so will require compromise, and parents should focus on the child’s needs first.

When making a custody determination, the court can consider the opinions of extended relatives and siblings. Particularly, it wants to see a parent’s support system and how it affects each parent’s ability to care for the kids. Evaluations from outside specialists such as therapists and other professionals should also be included in the decisions.

Courts also have a responsibility to preserve and uphold a parent’s rights. For instance, one parent may not currently have the resources to handle joint custody of a special needs kid. They still, however, have a right to see the kids.

Parents in this situation should take advantage of their visitation whenever possible while preparing their home and lifestyle for partial custody. When they are ready, they can go back to court and prove that they’ve done the necessary work, pleading for a new arrangement that includes joint custody.

Resources for Special Needs Children

People who are about to become single parents may need extra help, especially when caring for special needs kids.

Some available resources can provide support for the family, both financially and emotionally. Financial assistance may be accessed through various government programs that cover travel costs, medical needs, and housing needs. Various counseling services are available can help these families transition more peacefully.

Make sure you discuss your needs with your attorney, and they can help guide you to organizations that can help.

Including Medical Professionals in the Discussion

In a divorce that involves a special needs child, it is always best to involve the child's doctors and other medical professionals. They can give insight into the best course of action for the child's health and well-being given their unique circumstances.

When discussing the situation with your child’s healthcare team:

  • Inform them of the divorce, and ask for their opinion on how to handle custody.
  • Discussing any family tensions or stressors that might affect the child.
  • Ask about available psychological support services.

Direct recommendations from your child’s medical team can help ensure the best custody scenarios, post-divorce.

Living Arrangements for Special Needs Children in a Divorce

Consider what type of living environment is best for your child’s needs, and address both parents’ concerns. Advice from medical professionals, therapeutic experts, and family counselors may provide valuable information and help create an appropriate parenting plan.

You must remain open-minded when negotiating your parenting plan, especially when it involves kids with special needs. Always stay objective, compassionate, and fair-minded, making your child’s safety the top priority.

All living arrangements must consider:

  • Travel expenses
  • Access to the child’s medical team
  • The strain that traveling between homes may put on the child
  • Each parent’s ability to acquire, keep, and store necessary medical devices
  • The home’s accessibility, including walkways, doors, stairs, bathrooms, etc.

Create a Detailed Parenting Plan That Considers Special Needs Children

Your plan should include provisions for when and how parental responsibilities are shared.

Important decisions include:

  • Healthcare services
  • Religious instruction
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation arrangements
  • How communication between the parents will be handled
  • Who makes decisions related to the child’s education and healthcare
  • Any other specific concerns you must address

Good parenting plans should reflect both the emotional and physical needs of all children involved, including their academic needs. Put simply, parenting plans must consider all facets of a child’s life to ensure they receive adequate support.

Samra Dhillon & Associates is here to help guide you through tough custody decisions. We will always keep your child’s best interests first, simultaneously working to make sure your parental rights are protected. For help with complicated concerns about your kids in a divorce, reach out to us online or call our office at (916) 571-1550.