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Divorce and Children with Special Needs

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Jan 9, 2017 |


Divorce and Children with Special Needs

Many divorces occur between parties who have children together. Children with special needs can be especially affected by divorce. Agreements can be more complex because of the associated medical and caregiving needs. The legal standard for decisions involving children in the court system is always the “best interest of the child.” “Best interests” is a general standard, however, there are numerous factors that are considered including:

  • the ability of each parent to understand and meet the child’s needs
  • the stability of the home environment
  • the relationship between the child and parents and other family members
  • cultural considerations, such as religious practices, diet, and language
  • the age and gender of the child, and
  • if old enough, the child’s wishes

When a divorce involves a child with special needs, there are several additional issues to resolve such as:

  • parenting time
  • the transition between homes
  • educational decision making and involvement
  • health care and medical needs, including therapy, and
  • academic and recreational opportunities

Sometimes both parents don’t agree about matters involving a special needs child. For example, one parent may not agree with the other on the best approach for medical care and/or therapy or living arrangements. Parents may want to consider working with mediators and therapists in addition to their attorneys to help make decisions about the needs and care of the child. If you have a special needs child and are contemplating divorce, consult with an experienced family law attorney.