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Raising your special needs child after your divorce

Going through a divorce is typically a stressful experience. If you have children, your stress level may be even higher. If your child has special needs, you may be wondering how you will get through the ordeal, never mind raising your child alone. You will need all the help you can get.

In most states, parents are obligated to support their children financially until the children reach the age of majority. Some states say that age is 18, and others 21. However, only a few states, California included, require parents of children with special needs to continue that financial support as long as necessary.

As your special needs child grows, he or she may have expenses beyond those of healthier children, including:

  • Private education or tutors
  • Medical treatment
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Testing and assessment
  • Assisted living
  • Supplemental income for expenses not covered by Social Security Disability

If you don't live in a state that has laws to provide for your child beyond the age of majority, you may need to discuss with your attorney the options that you can negotiate within your state's laws.

Communication with your ex

The best solutions are made when co-parents work together for the best interests of the child. The ability to communicate well with your co-parent will greatly benefit your special needs child, since you and your former partner will be spending time together making important decisions about your child's future.

Reaching conclusions about your child's education alone can be time-consuming and involve many interactions with your ex-spouse for taking care of different issues, including:

  • Determining if your child needs special education
  • Meeting with professionals to evaluate your child's educational requirements
  • Meeting with your child's teachers for regular assessment
  • Finding appropriate therapy and medical treatment for your child

If communication between you and your former spouse is difficult, you may want to explore ways to improve it. Being able to work together will make it easier to work through tough issues.

Focusing on the best arrangements

You and your spouse may have conflicting opinions about your child's custody. If your child's disability makes it difficult for him or her to adapt to changing places and routines, you and your co-parent may need to reach a compromise to accommodate that issue. Additionally, you may have to consider the expense and logistics of maintaining at both homes any special equipment your child will require.

Bringing your concerns to an attorney may be a wise decision. An attorney will be able to assess your situation in light of state law and work to obtain adequate support from your co-parent to allow you to provide for the needs of your special child.

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