CIS on the Spectrum: Considering a Child's Neurodiversity in a Case Information Statement

No two families are alike. This phrase is even more true when you include the word “neurodiverse”: No two neurodiverse families are alike.

So, too, should no two Case Information Statements be alike, particularly when special financial needs are required to care for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A Case Information Statement (or “CIS”) is the core financial disclosure prepared by each litigant at the outset of a divorce or custody matter. A CIS includes all of the financial details of a case, including income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The Court heavily relies upon the CIS when determining what, if any, financial support is appropriate for a family.

While the form provided for a Case Information Statement includes line items for several financial details, a family with a neurodiverse child should take special care to include all financial costs associated with that child’s well-being. The parties should be specific about the needs of that child:

  • What services does the child require? Do Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists come to the home? Does a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) offer Parent Training or attend ABA sessions? How often do these sessions take place? Who pays for these services? If through insurance, what is the deductible and co-pay?
  • Does the child require special medical devices? Do they use a walker or a wheelchair that requires maintenance? Does the child require special communication devices, such as a specialized tablet? Who pays for these devices?  How, if at all, are insurance reimbursements claimed and tracked? 
  • Are there other additional associated costs with services? Does a parent miss work or use paid leave time to attend the sessions? If sessions or medical visits take place outside of the home, what is the wear and tear on the vehicle? Are tolls incurred and how often?
  • Does the child have a specialized diet? Some children with Autism may be prescribed special diets by a medical professional
  • Are there costs that do not look like they would be related to a child with special needs but are? For example, an ABA or occupational therapist may have legitimately requested that certain toys or puzzles be purchased for the child to assist with gross or fine motor skills.

At Cohn Lifland, our family law practice understands that your divorce should be tailored to your family. If you have a neurodiverse family, contact an experienced family law attorney at Cohn Lifland today to help you take the next steps in protecting your child’s best interests.