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Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children in CT

For couples with children, parenting plans are a vital element in divorce proceedings. While all plans must cater to the child’s best interests, parenting plans for a child with special needs requires careful deliberation.

A crucial decision that divorcing parents must make is regarding who is most suited for the child’s primary custody. In this decision, each parent’s emotional, mental, and financial well-being, as well as their living conditions and capability to care for a disabled child, must take precedence. 

Parenting Plan with Minimum Disruption of Routine

Special needs children, such as those with physical limitations, autism, developmental issues, educational needs, or medical conditions, require a parenting plan that causes minimal disruption to the child’s routine. It is critical for parenting plans for special needs children to be structured to offer consistent and reliable care.

The parent who has the primary custody of a special needs child should be able to cater to the physical demands, medical routines, and educational needs of the child as well as possess the skill and insight to manage the child’s disability.

A plan on the visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent must also focus on these issues in terms of overnight or extended visits. The non-custodial parent may have to consent to limit the frequency of their visits to minimize disruption, depending on the extent of the child’s disability.

The Positive Effect of a Collaborative Approach by Parents

To decide on how to make the necessary medical decisions for the special needs child, both parents will need to agree on a meticulous and detailed plan. It will be crucial to decide on aspects such as emergency circumstances, regular supervision, emotional or occupational therapy sessions, health insurance coverage, and financial matters on the child’s care.

In evaluating such considerations, the responsibility of caring for a disabled child should be distributed between both parents to prevent a particular parent from becoming overwhelmed with the care necessary for the child. Furthermore, these parenting plans should include educational decisions so that parents provide all the required support to ensure that the child develops into a well-adjusted adult.

The parents of a child with special needs will need to re-assess their plans to accommodate the child’s needs as they enter adulthood. The decisions on the care and supervision of a developmentally delayed adult should be overseen to ensure that both parents take responsibility for their care.

Medical insurance, estate planning, and social security benefits will make sure that their offspring are taken care of for a long time after they are no longer around.

Considerations in the Parenting Plan

Some important aspects to consider when setting forth a parenting plan for your special needs child are:

Routines are key

In the case of a child with special needs, consistency across homes is crucial. Routines can be important for the well-being of children with Autism, ADHD, and Anxiety, among others. Discuss and agree on routines that will be consistent across both homes, such as discipline, homework, parenting approaches, and bedtimes. In case you are unable to decide, consult a professional or clinician.

Be open to educating the non-primary caregiver parent.

Often, one parent is the point-person for treatment, care, homework, and other aspects. That parent may be concerned that the other cannot appropriately care for the child and may ask for greater custody. Regardless of the custody split, it is in the best interest of the child to share suggestions on how to best care for them. Being open to sharing and receiving is essential. This is not about control; the main goal is that the child gets the best attention possible.

Special needs section of the parenting plan

Develop a special needs section of your parenting plan where you agree on matters such as education, treatment, clinician contact, long-term care, and home modifications.

Appropriate caregivers if a parent is absent

If a parent is absent, discuss suitable caregivers, including the right of first refusal for the other parent to take charge, and document this decision.

Different needs of siblings

In case of siblings, it is essential to bear in mind that their needs might vary, including the custody decision. Sometimes, a special needs child may stay with one parent full-time while the siblings might go back and forth. Since every situation is unique, the parenting plan should address such nuances.

Remain in your lane

In case the other parent disagrees with you or struggles to care for the special needs child in the manner that you feel is appropriate, let it go provided there are no safety issues.

Be accommodating

While you may never want to lay eyes on each other again, this is not about your needs this time. Regardless of your feelings towards one another, remember to put the child’s interests before yours. At times, this means acknowledging that the child needs more time with the other parent.

Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in CT At APEX Law Firm, LLC, our legal team has handled countless divorce and co-parenting proceedings for families with unique situations. Our lawyers can help you determine what is in your child’s best interests, offering your child the best chance to live a happy and fulfilling life. For a free consultation with a compassionate and experienced family law attorney, message us online or call today at (860) 900-090

Unique Considerations for Divorcing Parents of Special Needs Children

When a marriage dissolves, it is difficult for all parties involved. There is uncertainty about the future, and there are many important issues that must be resolved during the divorce process. When divorcing spouses have children, there are additional considerations, such as child custody, visitation schedules, child support, and many others. This is especially true when the couple has a child with special needs.

Families with special needs children have many unique concerns to deal with, and standard parenting plans may not be sufficient to effectively account for all the underlying issues that must be resolved. When the Connecticut courts consider child support and child custody arrangements, they are able to examine specific factors that must be addressed to ensure that the final divorce decree is in-keeping with child’s best interests.

Unique Considerations for Divorcing Couples with Special Needs Children

Raising a child with special needs can be a full-time job, and when parents get divorced, there are several additional complications that may need to be resolved. In the best-case scenario, parents should work together on these issues and begin addressing them at the beginning of the divorce process.

Some of the unique factors that divorcing parents with special needs children may need to look at include:

Child Custody and Visitation Arrangements

Standard custody and visitation arrangements typically call for the child to split time between each parent. This often means the child makes frequent transitions from one parent to the other. A child with special needs usually has more difficulty traveling back and forth between the parents. For this reason, it might work better to use a more structured visitation schedule in which the child has less frequent and more extended visitation periods with the non-custodial parent.

The Child’s Medical and Functional Needs

A special needs child typically requires ongoing medical care which often includes specialized medical equipment in the home and in-home visits from a health professional and/or caregiver. This may require the non-custodial parent to make special accommodations for the child when he/she comes to visit. In addition, child support payments may need to be increased to account for additional medical expenses that may not be covered by health insurance.

Special Educational Needs

Special needs children often have learning disabilities that require additional educational resources. This may include an individualized education plan, specialized schooling, in-home tutoring, and many others. The structure of the visitation plan needs to account for the child’s educational plan, and the cost of these additional resources should also be factored into the child’s support needs.

Eligibility for Government Benefits

Special needs children often qualify for government benefits to help cover the extra expenses parents incur to care for their child. During a divorce, eligibility for these benefits may be threatened by the child support payments and the income of the parents. This issue can often be resolved by setting up a special needs (OBRA) trust. These trusts have specific requirements and must be set up correctly in order to be used to house child support payments, so be sure to work with an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of this area of the law.

Adult Child Support

Usually, a parent’s obligation to provide child support ends when the child turns 18. This may not be the case with a special needs child. If an adult child is disabled and cannot live alone, parents must continue to support the child until either parent dies or until the child becomes able to live on their own. For support payments to continue, the child must have already been mentally or physically disabled before turning 18, and it must be shown that the child is still unable to function on their own after they reach adulthood.

Contact a Skilled and Compassionate Hartford, CT Divorce Attorney

Caring for a child with special needs involves unique challenges that require a full commitment on the part of both parents to provide for the child’s well-being. When parents get divorced, these issues can become more complicated, and it is important for divorcing couples to work together to continue to ensure that their child will be taken care of.

At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we understand that divorce is a difficult and emotional time, and we work closely with our clients to listen and understand their specific needs, and to ensure that their interest, and the best interests of their children, are fully protected. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (860) 900-0900 or send us a message through our online contact form. You may also visit our Hartford County office in person at your convenience.