For parents considering a potential divorce, the needs and emotional well-being of their children is an important consideration. Divorce can have a long-lasting impact on how children relate to their parents, their siblings and their peers. It can affect their self-esteem, their drive and their sense of belonging. For children with special needs, divorces have even more potential for emotional damage.
If you have a special needs child in your family and divorce is on your mind, you need to take steps to protect your child from as much of the potential damage as possible. Careful planning and working with your ex to promote stability and routine as much as possible can minimize the impact your divorce has on your special needs child.
Special needs can complicate the best interests standard
When families in Texas divorce, the courts always use the same standard for all major custody decisions. They seek to make choices that will work in the best interests of the children involved. That typically means shared custody, often with the children traveling back and forth between the parents’ homes. When the child involved has special needs, determining the best interests of a child can become more complicated.
A special needs child may struggle to accept changes in environment and routine. It may be best for the child to have only visitation with one parent, while living full time with the other. Minimizing disruptions by staying in the same home and same school can make acclimation an easier process.
The courts may also need to carefully consider the bond between the child and each parent when deciding on issues like child support and spousal support. If there are medical needs that require ongoing nursing, one parent may choose to stay home and care for the child to defray potential expenses and ensure the best level of care. That can clearly impact the costs associated with maintenance.
Focus on protecting the emotions of your child during a divorce
It’s common for younger children to feel responsible for a divorce and struggle with both guilt and feelings of rejection in a divorce. Although the decision of their parents does not reflect on them, they often can’t help but feel that it does. You can reduce these risks by trying to shield your child from any conflict between you and your ex. Don’t fight in front of the child, drag him or her into court or talk poorly about your ex in front of your kid.
Also, work with your ex to ensure you’re both on the same page in terms of how you discuss the divorce, handle emotional outbursts and other critical parenting decisions. If you remain a unified front and try to put the needs of your child first, this can do a lot to minimize the impact of your divorce on your special needs child.