Accounting for the Care of Special Needs Children During a Divorce

Caring for a special needs child can take its toll on a marriage if parents are not careful to maintain a strong, healthy relationship. All too often, one parent decides to leave the marriage to avoid the extra obligations at home. The parent left to care for the special needs child should take special precautions during divorce proceedings to ensure they have the support he or she needs to meet the future needs of the child.

Child support in New York is based on state Child Support Standards, but there are no definite allowances for children with special needs. Some added expenses parents typically incur are:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Special education
  • Tutoring
  • Medication
  • Medical equipment
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Modifications to the family home and car
  • Relief caregiver expense
  • Elective surgery

Another important consideration is a possible need for post-minority support for children who cannot become self-supporting when they reach adulthood. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 2.8 million (5.2 percent) of the 53.9 million school-aged children have a disability. These figures only reveal disabilities among children aged five to 17 not institutionalized, so the number of families caring for special needs children is even larger.

The responsibility for taking care of the additional expenses that go along with caring for a special needs child should not fall to one parent. The custodial parent needs a written agreement or court order addressing these concerns.

If you are getting divorced and have a special needs child, it is essential you work with a family law attorney who understands the additional support a special needs child requires. This will help ensure your child receives the care they need.  By: Lauren B. Abramson

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