Friday, July 27, 2018
From The New Jersey Law Journal:
Unfortunately, the rate of divorce is exceptionally high—80-90 percent—among families of children with special needs. It is critical that family law practitioners understand the unique issues that arise in these cases. While all divorces are emotional and fraught with concerns about both short and long-term issues, divorce proceedings for parents of a child with special needs must be viewed through the lens of the long-term realities of disability. This is particularly true for children with complex or severe disabilities, who will require lifetime supports and services. Unlike “typical” kids, these children will never outgrow their need for assistance with basic decision-making, activities of daily living, self-care, etc. However, even children with mild disabilities may require specialized planning during a divorce due to their unique needs.
When a child is a minor, and custody or parenting time is at issue in a divorce, any special needs the child has must be considered when making final decisions. Children with autism or sensory processing issues, for example, may have a more difficult time transitioning between homes regularly. One home—or parent—may be better equipped to safely manage a child’s disability-related needs due to knowledge, work scheduling issues, other individuals in the home, etc. As with all custody discussions, the “best interests of the child” should prevail. Similarly, in terms of child support, additional expenses may need to be built in beyond the mandated guidelines to account for necessary therapies, private tutoring or education, specialized medications, items not covered by insurance, etc.
Read more here.