Divorce & Children with Special Needs

Divorce affects everyone involved, but it is often the most difficult for children with special needs. According to recent CDC statistics, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has grown to 1 in 110 children. Combined with the ever-rising divorce rates and you have a perfect storm that parents must navigate carefully with their special needs child.

When there is a child with special needs involved in a divorce, you must focus on resolving the following critical issues:

  1. Visitation agreements and transitions between homes
  2. Health and medical care, including special therapies
  3. Educational decision making
  4. Social and recreational opportunities

Typically, visitation arrangements for children involve alternating weekends, as well as extended school holiday and summer visits. For a child with a disability, it is better to minimize the amount of moving and instead structure longer visits with each parent. Children with special needs are greatly affected by disruptions in their daily routine.

Health and medical care will also be a central issue in the divorce, because children with special needs often require daily and lifelong attention. Parents need to agree about who makes decisions involving major procedures and information is shared when the child’s doctor recommends medical services.

Parents must also work together to find the appropriate educational and social support for their child. Schools and recreational opportunities tailored to special needs children are not very common and parents need to take that into consideration when deciding on where the child’s primary home will be.

Finally, it is never too early to prepare for your child’s life after high school. You should identify a career path and adult living arrangements that will support the child for as long as needed. Many times, children with special needs will require a lifetime of parental support.

If you need help with your divorce, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our Newport Beach divorce lawyers. Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP is dedicated to providing highly effective legal counsel geared towards securing favorable results for you.

Call (949) 565-4158 or contact us online to schedule your free case consultation today.

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