Divorces that involve children are almost always tough situations. When the child has special needs, the situation gets even more complicated. Children who have special needs have some unique care needs that must be met. This places the parents in a position where they have to make sacrifices.
For parents who are going through a divorce while trying to ensure that the special needs of their children are met, coming up with a child custody agreement can be especially challenging. Once the agreement is made, you still have to remain as flexible as possible because there are bound to be issues that pop up throughout the child’s life.
The added expense
The child support formulas that are used in Texas are based on a child who doesn’t have special needs. When you are dealing with arrangements for a child who does have special needs, you need to ensure that the child support order addresses the increased expenses. You should consider personal care assistant costs, uninsured medical care expenses, social expenses and other similar costs.
A unique issue that comes with some special needs children is that one parent might have to remain home to care for the child. This puts a lot of pressure on that parent to ensure that the child is cared for and that bills get paid. Child support and alimony might work together to help accomplish this if there isn’t a way that the parent can leave the child to work.
Some challenges to consider
Transportation for a child who is wheelchair dependent or who needs special equipment might be challenging. In some cases, a special vehicle is required to transport the child. This might mean that the vehicle needs to be traded off between parents. In this case, both parents might consider covering half of the cost of the vehicle and related expenses.
Even the child’s sleeping arrangements might pose a unique challenge. As abnormal as it might seem, some divorced parents of special needs children might opt to let the child remain at one home while the parents trade out who stays there with the child. This would require another residence, or possibly two, where the parent who isn’t caring for the child can go for the nights when the other parent is at home with the child.
Other points to think about include the education, medical and emotional needs of the child. Having a parenting plan that outlines everything related to the child custody agreement can make things easier down the road.
When there are other children
It is easy to focus on the special needs child when you are going through a divorce. This can’t happen if you have other children. Make sure that you aren’t putting the other children aside. The divorce will impact all of your children, so take the time to help each one through it and to make sure that you have a custody agreement that covers all of the children.