Experienced Legal Counsel Regarding Divorce And Special Needs Children
Texas, like a number of other states, bases decisions regarding child custody, parenting plans, child support and modifications on “the best interests of the child.” Determining what is in a child’s best interests can be difficult under normal circumstances. If the child has disabilities or special needs, it can be significantly more complex.
The attorneys at Mackoy, Hernandez, Qualls, Jones and Woods LLP, have extensive experience resolving issues regarding custody, parenting plans, educational decisions, health care decisions and social issues for special needs children in divorce. We understand the complexities involved and how to present these issues to a judge if your dispute goes to trial. Our focus on resolving disputes through negotiation and mediation is heightened in these cases, as it allows both parents to retain more control over the outcome.
Understanding What Must Be Addressed
We will become familiar with your child’s physical and emotional needs in order to help all parties involved assess how the child may react to changes in the family structure. Traditional parenting plans that often transfer a child between houses and create extended vacations with one parent may not be suitable for a child with a disability.
While they were together, the parents of a special needs child may have provided each other with breaks from the extra effort that is required to care for a child with a disability. Once the parents are living in separate households, the parent with primary care giving responsibilities may have to hire respite care to provide assistance. These types of added costs should be addressed when determining child support.
Education — School-aged children with special needs often receive individualized services, including an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP helps set educational goals, accommodations and identify additional support that is necessary. The IEP is developed with input from school personnel and family. Thus, the matter of who receives legal custody and can participate in educational decisions becomes important. It may make sense to give one parent full rights to educational decisions in order to avoid delays in needed services when disagreements occur.
Health Care — Similar circumstances involving health care may occur. Children with medical conditions may require frequent and sometimes emergency care. Agreeing to terms on who can make decisions involving medical care or how those decisions will be shared is essential. Careful drafting of agreements regarding medical care is critical.
Socialization — If possible, parents should also reach agreement regarding postsecondary education or vocational training, whether a child will be able to live independently in adulthood, and appropriate socialization and recreational activities for the child.
We invite you to reach us if you have a special needs child and you are facing divorce. We can answer your questions and recommend an effective course of action during a consultation with one of our lawyers. Call 469-269-0134 or use our online contact form to schedule a meeting.