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Divorce considerations for children with special needs

Parents of children with mental or physical disabilities know how proper care makes a difference in their lives. Patient teaching, therapy and careful management of the environment might help your child continue to learn and grow at their own pace.

Your child’s needs, therefore, might influence a few aspects of your divorce. You and your spouse may have to make decisions and plan according to what would best suit your child.

For children with mental or learning disabilities, such as autism or ADHD, this time of change could be upsetting or difficult to understand. You may want to speak to the child’s therapist to figure out how to make the transition as smooth as possible. During the transition, you and your spouse might have to be intentional about avoiding arguments in front of the child. You could also discover that your child may benefit from staying in the same home after the divorce is finalized.

Your divorce may also require an extra focus on the long-term. Caring for a child with special needs usually raises the costs of parenting. Expenses may include regular doctor appointments, tutoring programs, caregiver aid, wheelchairs or other medical equipment. The custodial parent is likely to face higher costs over the course of their lifetime.

Normally, child support ends once the child turns 18 or graduates high school. However, if their level of ability does not allow them to work, the child may remain dependent on their parents. Special needs child support often extends well into their adult life. Public or private assistance might affect the child support agreement if the child is eligible for benefits in Florida.

Divorce is complicated, but even more so when you have a child with special needs. Contact a family law attorney if you have questions about how your situation might affect the divorce. Your options and decisions will likely depend on your child’s unique ability so that disruption is as minor as possible.

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