Going through a divorce with children is never easy. It’s an uncertain, emotionally fraught time that can put everyone involved into upheaval.
Custody must be determined, child support must be secured, and parents must learn how to work together to raise children in a logistical manner they never considered before.
But for the parents of children with special needs, the divorce process is even more complicated.
What may seem like a “simple” divorce under any other circumstances can quickly become complex as care plans, expensive medical treatment, and a need for routine have to come into play.
Here are 5 key parenting plan considerations parents of children with special needs should remember:
Families of children with special needs easily can incur thousands of dollars in medical costs annually, with doctors, hospitals, therapists, and specialists all adding up.
Because of this, it is essential that parents of special needs children address the responsibility for medical costs in their parenting plans.
Items such as who pays for insurance premiums and deductibles, how uncovered medical expenses are paid, and whether the child will be considered for any alternative or non-traditional medical treatment. Medical decision-making and who can change a child’s medical providers also needs to be addressed.
Children with special needs, especially those with behavioral disorders, ADD/ADHD, and autism, may have to make difficult decisions about their children’s education.
A parenting plan for children of special needs should address a child’s current education, as well as how any disagreements over education will be handled in the future. This can include whether or not the parents will consider homeschooling, whether special instructional schools are an option, and what types of interventions and therapies the family wants to pursue through the school system.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust is a financial account set up to not only provide funds to a special needs individual for things such as care, but also can protect any assets the person may have.
Parents whose children may need a Special Needs Trust should work with an estate planning attorney to protect their children’s ability to receive Social Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits.
Life insurance can – and should, in many cases – be used to secure child support in the event of the payor’s death.
However, parents also can utilize life insurance to provide for their child’s medical needs, as well as any general living expenses. Discussing whether one or both parents will carry life insurance and how those funds will be designated for distribution can be handled in the parenting plan.
While it may be nice to think of a child splitting their time between both parents’ homes, that often isn’t possible for children with special needs.
Whether those special needs require extensive medical care on a daily basis, or the shifting routines of a 50/50 custody situation could cause behavioral problems for the child, needs to be addressed in a parenting plan.
A child with special needs doesn’t have to mean that one parent misses out on the day-to-day care of the child; however, it may mean that the parents have to get creative and put aside their differences to allow the child equal access to both parties.
Family Law Attorney in Central Maryland
At the Law Office of Sandra Guzman-Salvado, our team has experience navigating the divorce and co-parenting process for families with unique situations. We can help you determine what’s in your child’s best interest, giving your child the best chances of continuing to live a happy life full of good milestones. Schedule your consultation today!