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Getting Divorced? Have a Child with Special Needs?

Here are 3 critical factors that you should consider when divorcing with a special needs child

1. TIMESHARING

Consistency and Routine: Children with special needs such as autism often thrive on routine and predictability. It’s important to establish a timesharing schedule that minimizes disruptions to their daily routines as much as possible.

Transition Planning: Plan for smooth transitions between households. Children with special needs may struggle with abrupt changes, so having a structured and well-communicated transition plan can be beneficial. Consider methods that you can use such as story boards, visual schedules to communicate with the plan with your child until he/she is used to it.

Communication: Maintain open and consistent communication with your co-parent about your child’s needs, preferences, and any changes in behavior or routines. Again, consistency between households can be reassuring for a child with Down Syndrome or other special needs.

Specialized Care: Ensure that both households are equipped to provide the necessary specialized care and support for your child, including any therapies, medications, or adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, PECs, laptops, etc.

Flexibility: While routines are important, be prepared to adjust the timesharing schedule when necessary to accommodate your child’s evolving needs or unexpected situations.

Professional Guidance: Consider involving professionals such as therapists, attorneys, or your child’s teacher who specializes in special needs to help develop a timesharing plan that best serves your child’s unique needs.

Remember that every child with special needs is unique, so it’s crucial to tailor your timesharing plan to your child’s specific requirements and preferences. Consulting with professionals experienced in these matters can be invaluable in this process.

Consistency and Routine: Children with special needs such as autism often thrive on routine and predictability. It’s important to establish a timesharing schedule that minimizes disruptions to their daily routines as much as possible.

Transition Planning: Plan for smooth transitions between households. Children with special needs may struggle with abrupt changes, so having a structured and well-communicated transition plan can be beneficial. Consider methods that you can use such as story boards, visual schedules to communicate with the plan with your child until he/she is used to it.

Communication: Maintain open and consistent communication with your co-parent about your child’s needs, preferences, and any changes in behavior or routines. Again, consistency between households can be reassuring for a child with Down Syndrome or other special needs.

Specialized Care: Ensure that both households are equipped to provide the necessary specialized care and support for your child, including any therapies, medications, or adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, PECs, laptops, etc.

Flexibility: While routines are important, be prepared to adjust the timesharing schedule when necessary to accommodate your child’s evolving needs or unexpected situations.

Professional Guidance: Consider involving professionals such as therapists, attorneys, or your child’s teacher who specializes in special needs to help develop a timesharing plan that best serves your child’s unique needs.

Remember that every child with special needs is unique, so it’s crucial to tailor your timesharing plan to your child’s specific requirements and preferences. Consulting with professionals experienced in these matters can be invaluable in this process.

Turn the Page Now. Contact the Law Offices of E.F. Robinson, P.A. to represent you in your divorce with a special needs child.

2. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Child Support: Determine the appropriate amount of child support that will cover the unique needs of your special needs child and whether child support will continue past the age of 18/19 years old is appropriate. This should include expenses related to medical care, therapy, special education, and any other necessary support services.

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses: Decide how health insurance coverage will be provided for your child. This may involve maintaining the child on one parent’s plan or exploring other options, such as Medicaid or private insurance with appropriate coverage. Clarify how medical expenses beyond insurance coverage will be divided between both parents even after the age of 18/19/26 years old. This may include co-pays, deductibles, and any out-of-pocket costs for therapies and/or other interventions associated with your child’s condition.

Educational Expenses: Private Special education services and additional educational support may be necessary for your child so it is necessary to determine how these expenses will be addressed, including any tuition costs for specialized schools or alternative training programs.

Long-Term Planning: You may need a long-term plan to ensure that your child’s financial needs are met well into the future. This may involve creating a trust or special needs financial plan that provides for their ongoing care and support and should take into consideration the child’s living setting after the age of 18.

Social Security and Government Assistance: Investigate whether your child is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits or other government assistance programs such as the State of Florida, Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ Medwaiver Program. These can help cover some of the additional costs associated with their condition and/or provide additional services.

Legal Assistance: Seek legal counsel experienced in special needs cases to ensure that financial agreements in the divorce settlement adequately address your child’s specific needs and rights.

Turn the Page Now. Contact the Law Offices of E.F. Robinson, P.A. to represent you in your divorce with a special needs child.

3. YOU

Parents who are getting a divorce while raising a special needs child often have unique emotional needs that should be recognized and addressed. Here are some other needs that are not often thought about if the parties are versed in the impact of having a special needs child.

Retirement – At times, one parent bears the brunt of caring for the child for a majority of the time. This means that that parent often must take off work in order to care for the child’s medical appointments, therapies, IEP meetings, and/or due to the child’s behavioral outburst. This responsibility may impact the parent’s career by interfering with his/her career development and ability to earn and contribute to his/her retirement. It is important to consider a 50/50 timesharing schedule, if feasible. If not, then this may be a reason for an unequal distribution of the marital assets and liabilities.

Professional Help –You should seriously consider accessing counseling to address potential feeling such as guilt and self-blame (wondering if your divorce is causing additional stress or harm to their child with special needs); stress and anxiety (divorce is inherently stressful, and when combined with the responsibilities of caring for a special needs child, it can lead to increased anxiety).

Self-Care: You should not neglect your own self-care while focusing on your child’s needs. You need reminders to prioritize self-care, including rest, relaxation, and pursuing activities they enjoy. You also need time for themselves to engage in personal interests and activities that help to maintain their emotional well-being.

Long-Term Planning – You need to develop their own long-term plan in the event that something should happen to them, and they are no longer able to care for their child with special needs.

Your Attorney- It is highly advisable to seek an attorney with specialized knowledge , resource connections, with special education, and guardian advocacy experience, who will ensure that your child’s unique needs are addressed comprehensively, and you are protected.

Turn the Page Now. Contact the Law Offices of E.F. Robinson, P.A. to represent you in your divorce with a special needs child.

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