Parents of a child with a disability or special needs often face tremendous pressures and difficulties. The emotional strain of raising a disabled child can, in many cases, even lead a couple to divorce. During the divorce process, determining the child’s best interests and allocating parental responsibilities can be extremely complicated. Depending upon the level of your child’s disability, such complications can continue even after your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, as you or your ex-spouse could be required to continue providing financial support for your child.
Who Is “Disabled?”
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines a disabled person as someone “who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” To qualify for non-minor support, the child must have been determined to have the disability while he or she was eligible for traditional child support or for non-minor support for educational expenses. This means that if your child graduates high school, reaches adulthood, moves out of your home, and at age 26 becomes physically disabled, the provisions of non-minor child support will not apply.
Factors for Consideration
Either or both parents may be required to contribute toward the support of a mentally or physically disabled child. The court may even award a portion of a deceased parent’s estate for such a purpose. In making the determination, the court must take into account:
- The current and future resources of both parents, and their expected needs, including retirement savings;
- The standard of living the child could have expected if the marriage had continued;
- The financial resources and needs of the child; and
- Any programs or resources available to the child, including Social Security and other non-profit or governmental programs.
Support for the disabled adult child may be paid to one parent or to a to trust created for the benefit of the child. As with most orders related to child support, the order can be revisited and modified if and the need arises.
Help for Your Child
If your child is mentally or physically disabled, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law, and our law firm can help. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Orland Park for a free initial consultation today. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule an appointment.