Getting divorced in Texas can be difficult for even the simplest family structure. If your family includes one or more children with special needs, that can have a direct impact on the decisions you make regarding your marriage and its end.
Specifically, concerns about the needs of your child could impact everything from your living arrangement during and after the divorce to how the courts handle both custody and child support. You want to reduce the strain on your special needs child as much as possible.
Whether you are the primary caretaker for a disabled child and want to know about your rights as the custodial parent or you are a working parent who will likely pay child support, it is normal to wonder how special needs impact child support determinations in Texas divorces.
The courts will consider the needs of your child when setting child support
For the average family seeking a divorce, the process for establishing child support amounts is relatively straightforward. The Texas courts use a special calculator for child support that looks at income, the number of children and the custody arrangements. The more evenly the parents share parenting time, the less financial obligation there is for child support.
However, the final ruling on child support will also consider other major factors, such as special medical and educational expenses you incur as part of caring for your special needs child. This extra consideration is important, as special needs children often incur more daily expenses and medical costs than their neurotypical counterparts.
If your special needs child requires special therapy, such as ABA therapy for autistic children, that can cost hundreds of dollars a week. Many insurance companies do not cover these sorts of treatments or only pay a fraction of their cost. Thankfully, the courts will look at that, as well as the increased cost of child care for special needs children, when determining how to set a fair amount for child support.
Both parents have the right to request a modification
Financial and medical situations can change very quickly for a family in the days and weeks following a divorce. What was once a reasonable and appropriate amount of child support may be too high for you to afford or may not be high enough to cover a reasonable amount of a special needs child's expenses.
Thankfully, the state of Texas allows parents to request a modification when their financial circumstances change substantially. If the amount of child support ordered at the time of your divorce is no longer appropriate for your situation, you may want to file a motion requesting a modification hearing.
Regardless of whether you anticipate paying or collecting child support, learning more about how Texas courts handle special needs custody and child support issues can help you make informed decisions with the best interest of your child as the focus.