How To Care For Special Needs Children After A Divorce

Thank you to Lindsey Parlin for graciously volunteering to submit this information regarding a very important subject – Tom Rose

Submitted by Lindsey Parlin,, Attorney –

Every year, thousands of parents go through the difficulties of divorce. With the divorce, comes the challenges of caring for children in a way that ensures they continue to thrive. When the children in the family are special needs kids, the challenges are even more difficult.

Children are unique individuals. Even emotionally mature adults have a difficult transition when faced with fear, stress, raw emotion, and changes that are inevitable with divorce. This is even harder for a special needs child.

When the adults, attorneys, and courts are working to ensure the health and well-being of the special needs child who has parents going through a divorce, it is often difficult to determine which arrangement is the most beneficial for the child. The fact is, the best interest of the child is not a set formula. It is a process that will require constant monitoring and adjusting. It will require two loving adults who put the needs of their child before their own.

Making decisions

All children have certain basic needs that are addressed in the divorce courts. These include:

  • A stable home
  • The love and support of their parents
  • Food, clothing, and other necessities
  • Education
  • Social interaction
  • Medical care

Special needs children have these same needs, though magnified many times over. A special needs child may require a special diet, equipment to assist them in mobility, therapy, tutoring, monitored medication, special transportation, and much more. While both parents support the child, it is important that one parent has the decision-making power for the special needs child after a divorce. This is something the parents, with the help of their attorneys, will address and decide together. Both parents must clearly understand which spouse has the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s medical and educational needs. That is not to say that both parents should not work together to come to the conclusions, but at the end of the day, one parent has the authority to make the final decision.

Custody and support

It is hard for any child that is living in a divorced home to alternate between each parent. This transition into a new environment and new routine might make a child feel confused and uncomfortable. A regular schedule can be hard to maintain when everyone is first adjusting to a new living arrangement. However, this lack of organization is unacceptable for a special needs child. Consistency is key. The living arrangements must be set, and both parents must abide by them. Child support is critical for the special needs child. He or she has needs that cannot wait while mom and dad figure out how to co-parent effectively without having a power struggle.

The parenting plan must include arrangements for the extra expenses that come with a special needs child and the additional care that is often required.

Financial planning for the future

All parents must address the financial needs of their child as they mature into young adults and start to prepare for college. College funds and other financial issues are generally addressed and put into place when the child is young so that the funds are available when the child reaches the age when they are needed.

The special needs child will have financial needs that include the same expenses as other children and often much more. Depending on their physical needs, a college may require special transportation, tools, and equipment. You do not know what options will be available for them 15 years from now. For that reason, it is wise to contribute to your child’s financial accounts while they are young.

Divorcing your spouse does not relieve you from your parental obligations.

Attorney Lindsey Parlin is a dedicated family law and criminal defense attorney. Her hard work has earned her the title of “Favorite Local Attorney,” and with good reason. Lindsey provides free legal consultations for all types of legal matters. She extends her hours to include evenings and weekends to be more accessible to her clients. Her impressive credentials include work in the highest legal offices in her county. She is a trained mediator and a Child and Family Investigator for Colorado’s 5th and 11th Judicial Districts.

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