Divorce is a difficult enough experience, but can be even more challenging for spouses who have a child with special needs. The amount of detail required to plan for your child’s future, well-being, and protection can feel overwhelming, especially for the custodial parent. To ease some of these difficulties, make sure both you and your spouse consider what your child’s special needs are and have your lawyer walk you through a day of caring for your child.
Charts for child support do not address the added expenses of a child with special needs. It is important to factor in the increased need for specialty medical care, services, equipment, non-prescription treatments, vitamins and nutritional needs. Having any uncertainty regarding these added expenses and cost of future care will make it impossible to adequately estimate disability-related expenses in a divorce settlement agreement.
When negotiating a parenting plan, critical information and instructions should be explicitly stated. As a starting point, it would be prudent to first explore how much you and your spouse agree about your child’s disabilities and abilities. Special care should also be given to estate planning and the child’s transition into adulthood.
When Does Child Support End?
Typically, child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority or when he or she graduates from college. For divorcing parents of children with special needs, however, this is often not the case, given that some disabilities involve severe impairments that require life-long care and life-long co-parenting. The divorce agreement must consider the unique issues of your special needs child, including their eligibility for quasi-government or private agency benefits, employment, recreation and social skills, independent living, or custodial care.
Having a child with special needs not only impacts child support payments, but spousal support payments as well, which must also factor in many of the aforementioned concerns. This can be a complex area of law, which is why you should consult a family law attorney who is knowledgeable on such matters to avoid forfeiting your child’s entitlements. In-kind alimony or child support, for example, can help preserve government benefits. However, it must be addressed during the divorce process.
Work Toward an Agreement that Suits Your Child’s Needs
Caring for a child with special needs can seem like a full-time job and the impact it can have on the income of a custodial parent should be considered when spousal maintenance is determined, particularly since this care often extends beyond the age of majority. A divorce agreement should be tailored to your unique situation and reflect the long-term costs involved. Do what you can to effectively channel support obligations and parenting plans in the divorce settlement, so that you are able to provide a better quality of life for your child.
Beverly Hills Child Support Lawyers
Parents have a financial obligation to support their children and, if you are in the midst of a divorce and have a special needs child, the issue of child support is a particularly important issue for you. The quality of your life and your child’s life will be greatly influenced by the decision the court makes regarding child support. At Stolar & Associates, we have more than 30 years of experience and our attorneys have made appearances in thousands of cases. We understand the ins and outs of taking any child support case to court and are well equipped to advise you on a wide range of support-related matters.
Call us at 310.984.1411 to schedule a consultation with one of our Beverly Hills child support lawyers.