Four Things to Consider When Divorce Involves a Special Needs Child

Four Things to Consider When Divorce Involves a Special Needs Child

Custody, visitation, and support considerations in a divorce action can be complicated. However, when a child has special needs, those concerns and the decisions that have to be made are all the more important. Parenting is challenging, parenting following a divorce is very challenging, parenting a special needs child after a divorce is monumentally challenging. The ability to work together as co-parents is all the more important when you are parenting a special needs child. Here are four things to consider when your divorce involves a special needs child:

First, you need to consider that while many divorcing parents will only have to truly co-parent on a daily basis until their children reach adulthood, you may be co-parenting on a daily basis for the rest of your natural life. While some special needs children will go on to live independent lives, many will not. It will be important for the two of you to work together to assist each other in the care of your child from day-to-day care, to doctor’s appointments, specialist appointments, counseling, independent living skills training, among other appointments and commitments. You will have to put your differences aside.

Second, there are times when you will need the other parent to provide respite care for you and neither of you should feel guilty about asking for that support. Also, don’t use the other’s need for self-care and time off to berate or belittle the other parent.

Third, be careful how you structure any child support awards. Your child may qualify for SSI and Medicaid, but if the child support is not structured properly, your child could lose his or her Medicaid eligibility. While this may not matter today because your child can be covered on your health insurance, it can become a big deal when your child is no longer eligible to be covered on your health insurance plant. It is important to involve a trusts and estates attorney who has experience drafting special needs trusts in the divorce process, in addition to your divorce attorney, to make sure your child maintains eligibility.

Fourth, remember that equal time-sharing arrangements or schedules that allow for overnight visits during a school week may not always work well for your child. Some special needs children have incredible difficulty with changing routines and schedules. It is not about you or what you want, it is about making sure that the schedule works for your child first and for you second. Always put your children’s needs before your own. This is true in every custody case but even more so when your child has special needs.

At New Beginnings Family Law, we understand how stressful and devastating a divorce and child custody issues can be for a family. Our team is committed to providing a caring and comfortable environment where you can feel safe to talk about your case and your goals for the future. You can trust our Huntsville family law attorneys to:

  • Objectively review your case from every angle to develop a smart strategy for moving forward
  • Push toward a satisfactory resolution before your case goes to court
  • Provide strong and relentless courtroom advocacy if your case must go to trial
  • Always put the needs of your children first
  • Make ourselves available anytime you need to talk
  • Truly sympathize with your situation, because many of us have been there ourselves

With more than a decade of experience successfully handling all types of family law cases, our team is prepared to guide you through this difficult time and help get you to the place you want to be. Contact us at or call (256) 530-2254.

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