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The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan

5 Things to Consider When Divorce Involves a Special Needs Child

One in five American households has a child with a disability or special health care need. Having a special needs child can put strain on a relationship. Sometimes, that strain leads to divorce.

When parents of a special needs child divorce, the standard formulas for child support, custody and division of assets may not be adequate. It is important that parents, San Francisco divorce attorneys, and family court judges make the health and well-being of the special needs child a priority when negotiating the divorce agreement.

Here are five things that must be considered:

  1. Routine: Many children spend weekdays with one parent and weekends with another. For a child with an autism spectrum disorder, transitions are difficult. The change in routine and location can be very distressing. It could make the child ill. How will visitation be arranged to best accommodate the child?
  2. Equipment: Visitation can also be difficult for a child who needs a lot of medical equipment or has special transportation needs. Will each parent have a vehicle with a wheelchair lift? Can the vehicle be shared so it is used by the parent transporting the child? Will the child have a nebulizer at each parent’s house? These issues must be decided when determining physical custody and visitation schedules.
  3. Child care needs: Will one parent need to take care of the child full time? How will that parent be supported? Will she get spousal support? What will happen when that parent has an appointment or needs a break?
  4. Health care needs: Who will provide insurance for the child? Who will pay the costs of medical care that are not covered by insurance? Who will take the child to appointments? Who will cover the cost of transportation?
  5. Financial needs: Does your child require physical therapy or occupational therapy? Does she need special equipment? Medications? The California child support agreement must consider all the needs of your child.

Before you go before a judge, gather any medical bills, hospital reports, evaluations, and other paperwork related to your child’s condition. This will help your San Francisco divorce lawyer estimate the true cost of care for your child. Tell your lawyer about your child’s needs, what daily life is like, the frequency of medical appointments, and how she will react to a change in schedule. Discuss how your child’s disability affects other members of the family, including siblings. Your attorney will need to explain these needs to the judge.

The women-only divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan will fight for you and your child. To schedule an appointment, call us at 415-341-1144.