The divorce rate among parents who have a child with special needs is very high. In fact, some estimate the rate to be between 80% to 90%. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you understand this. You know that even though you both love your child very much, the stress of the situation can take its toll on couples.
If you are contemplating or in the process of a divorce, extreme caution should be taken in planning for the future to ensure that your child’s long-term needs are met. It is important to think through issues such as who will be responsible for making educational, medical, and housing decisions for your child after the divorce is final. In addition, you need to decide who will be financially responsible for your child’s expenses now and in the future. All of these issues should be specifically addressed in the divorce agreement.
Child support payments should also be carefully considered to ensure that they will not negatively impact your child’s access to government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
If you believe that your child will need a long-term guardianship when they reach adulthood, it is a good idea to consider who will assume that responsibility. Agreement on this critical issue now can avoid a contested guardianship in the future.
It is also a wise idea to consider creating a Special Needs Trust at this time to ensure the quality of life for your child in the future. In some cases, parents choose to direct child support payments to a trust that has been set up for the child’s sole benefit.
Divorces are never easy, especially when you have a child together that will be dependent on mom and dad for life. It’s a smart idea to work with a Special Needs attorney, in addition to your divorce attorney, to ensure that you are taking all the steps necessary to protect your child during the divorce and well into the future. If we can help you get started, please feel free to contact our Brandon estate and special needs lawyers at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.