Special Needs Children and Divorce

While any child may experience negative consequences after a divorce, those with special needs are considered to be at the highest risk for emotional, financial, behavioral, and developmental problems. This is because the future, health, and development of a special needs child often rely on continued care and treatment. Many also struggle with changes to their environment. If you are filing for divorce and have a special needs child, be prepared. Know how to best protect your child’s future and well-being during and after the divorce.

Considerations and Provisions

Like all children, those with special needs incur expenses relating to food, clothing, and school supplies. These expenses are typically factored into child support considerations during a divorce proceeding. However, children with special needs may have other expenses as well. Many are necessary for their child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being. To ensure they are covered, parents may want to make a few important considerations and provisions during their divorce, including:

  • Medical and therapeutic expenses: Families who have a child with special needs often spend thousands of dollars on medical treatment and equipment, alternative treatment, and necessary therapies, such as speech therapy, physical therapy, or behavioral therapy. Co-pays, insurance premiums, and deductibles are often a part of this cost. To ensure there is not a lapse in treatment or coverage, parents should carefully consider their child’s expenses and determine the cost so that it can be provided for in the divorce settlement.
  • Life insurance: Children generally outlive their parents. For those with significant medical, behavioral, developmental, or physical deficits, this can be problematic when it comes to long-term care. Parents can ensure that treatment will continue through a life insurance policy. If such a policy does not already exist, consider negotiating a life insurance option in the settlement of your divorce.
  • Special Needs Trusts: In some instances, divorcing parents may wish to create and/or negotiate a special needs trust. This can help ensure the child’s medical and therapeutic needs are met, long after the divorce has ended. To ensure this does not interfere with social security benefits or other financial provisions, parents should work with an attorney when developing a special needs trust for their child.

Helping Your Special Needs Child Adjust During Divorce

In addition to their medical and therapeutic needs, special needs children often require consistency and constant supervision. Parents should clearly and effectively communicate with one another to determine parenting time schedules. Furthermore, parents will need to find a way to communicate with their child about the divorce. This may require parents to think outside of the box and to carefully consider when, where, and how they will break the news. Keep in mind that this should be a joint effort and that parental conflict should be checked at the door.

Get Skilled and Experienced Help with Your Divorce

If you have a special needs child and are thinking about filing for divorce, it is important that you have a skilled and compassionate advocate at your side. The experienced Orland Park family law attorneys at our firm recognize the sensitivity of your situation. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation at Kezy & Associates today. We fight to protect the best interest of your child, treat your family with the respect you deserve, and work hard to ensure you receive the settlement you need.