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Planning a Divorce with a Special Needs Child


Going through a divorce with a special needs child can be especially challenging for parents. There are a number of special considerations that must be made during the divorce in order to accommodate the needs of a child with physical or mental disabilities now and in the future. At the law office of Blair H. Chan, III our empathetic and knowledgeable Tampa family law attorneys are here to help you navigate this difficult time and structure a divorce that works best for your special needs child. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule a free consultation of your case.

Parenting Plan

The first major issue to settle in any divorce involving a child with special needs is to set the terms of the parenting plan clearly and explicitly. In many cases, parents have different perceptions of their child’s disabilities and capabilities are. The parenting plan can set clear instructions and provide important information about your child’s needs, including but not limited to how to manage certain behaviors, giving medication, monitoring consistency of foods, adapting physical surroundings, and understanding the preferences of the child, especially if they are non-verbal. The parenting plan may also spell out specifics about spending time with other children in the family that do not have special needs so that they do not feel neglected after a divorce.

Visitation Schedule

Another major issue in a divorce that has a special needs child is adapting the visitation schedule. Normal visitation schedules between parents sharing custody may not work with a child that has special needs, especially if the child needs consistency in their life and familiar routines. Considerations for how travel will take place, with whom, and what special equipment may be necessary should all be considered. It may also require a parent to come to the child instead of the child traveling to them for visitation.

Child Support

Finally, determining child support for a child with special needs is critically important in this type of divorce. Caring for a child with special needs can be incredibly expensive, and both parents need to contribute to the child’s ongoing care. Child support guidelines do not typically include considerations for a special needs child, so deviations from the guidelines are often requested. This may also include extending child support beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday, when support typically ends, to continue indefinitely in order to provide for the child’s needs. Adult disabled children often require therapy, medical equipment, medication, modifications to the home and car, caregivers, and specialized medical treatment that the parents are responsible for and mist be considered in a divorce.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

Do you have questions about how to structure a Florida divorce with your special needs child in mind? If so, the experienced divorce attorneys at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III are here to help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your case and learn more about your legal options now.

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