Divorce is never a simple matter, even in a best-case scenario, and often has a way of complicating already difficult matters. For the parents of a special needs child, requires specific attention to a wide array of present and future issues. Parents must ensure that the child they share will not suffer because the marriage is ending.
It is vital to be aware of how the strains of raising a special needs child affect your marriage. Extra caution must be taken so that the child will not feel responsible for this drastic life change.
Above all other components of your divorce, it is important to work together as much as possible to create the best life you can for your child.
The parenting plan must reflect what is truly best for the child
While all parenting plans theoretically aim to create the most ideal scenario for the child, there are often considerations granted for each parent's individual rights as well. While parents' rights are still a component of any parenting plan, for a special needs child, the plan has very little room for the parents' wants.
Things that may seem reasonable for a child without special needs are not always practical or helpful for a special needs child's plan. As a vulnerable individual, the child's well-being goes beyond being fed, housed and socialized. The child's understanding of how to cope with simple things like a change in environment or routine can be devastating. A neurotypical child may be able to successfully cope with changes when accompanied by parental support.
To create the best life for your child, you will need to negotiate apart from your ego and preferences. It may be necessary to give up privileges that you feel you deserve in order to provide the best life for your child.
There is a difference, however, between working with your spouse to create the best compromise for your child and allowing yourself to be taken advantage of in the name of good parenting. This is one of the many areas where it can be helpful to have an experienced advocate in your corner. He or she will help you understand the scope of your choices and strategize for your child's best interests.
The right help is crucial for seeing the big picture
For a special needs child, a parenting plan will have many consequences. Everything from who has primary custody to who is able to provide access to the best medical care and ongoing therapy will be important.
Because special needs children require a higher degree of interaction from their parents, divorcing parents will likely be closely bound to each other for a long time, and the sooner that they can learn to work together in the best interests of the child, the better it will be.
If you are entering into a divorce and are the parent of a child with special needs, don't hesitate to seek legal guidance. An attorney with experience in special needs children can help you understand the entirety of the choices you will have to make while planning for the future. Together, you can ensure that the child's needs remain at the center of the negotiations.