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The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan

Are There Special Child Support Rules for Special-Needs Children?

Twenty percent of California families have at least one special-needs child. Like all children, special-needs kids require food, shelter, clothing, schooling, and recreation. However, special needs also come with special expenses. Additional costs associated with raising a special-needs child include: 

  • Medical care
  • Psychological and psychiatric treatment
  • Medication
  • Medical equipment
  • Specialized medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational or speech therapy
  • Social and behavioral therapy
  • Physical accommodations
  • Modifications to the home or car
  • Special dietary costs
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Transportation
  • Special education
  • In-home care
  • Respite care

It can be hard to make ends meet after a divorce. It can be even more difficult if you have a special-needs child. Child support, an amount of money ordered by the court to help provide food, clothing, medical care, and education, is generally calculated using the California Guideline Child Support Calculator. However, California child support guidelines are based on the typical cost of raising a child in California. These guidelines don't take into account the many expenses involved in raising a special-needs child. In fact, a typical child support award may barely make a dent in the basic needs of a disabled child.

California child support law allows the courts to order additional child support for the medical, educational, and other special needs of a disabled child. This can include the purchase of special medical equipment, the cost of modifying a home or vehicle, therapeutic summer camps, and tuition at a special-needs school. When calculating California child support for a special-needs child, San Francisco divorce lawyers must calculate all the long-term costs of raising the child and divide these costs equitably. 

Child support payments in California are usually made until the child turns 18 or graduates high school. However, a disabled child who is not capable of self-support may require care into adulthood. In addition to extra child support, California courts may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child throughout life.

If you are considering divorce and have children with special needs, it is important to talk with an experienced San Francisco child support attorney. The women-only divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan can answer your questions and help you understand your rights and options. To schedule an appointment, call 415-341-1144.