Mother comforting her child

4 Tips for Divorced Parents of Children with Special Needs

Going through a divorce is difficult on its own, and those hardships are only intensified by the stress and worry of taking care of a special needs child. Below is a list of four tips that will make navigating divorce with a special needs child a little easier. 

1. Plan for Your Child’s Future Through an Estate Plan 

Some disabilities require medical support and care throughout adulthood. If your child’s condition is severe, you must begin planning for your child’s lifelong care during your divorce. 

One way parents can prepare for their child’s future medical needs is through estate planning. Estate planning sets funds aside for the future in the event of the primary caregiver’s death or incapacitation. 

Special Needs Trusts

Will your child be unable to work and support themselves in adulthood? If so, your child will likely be eligible for government benefits, such as Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). 

However, if your child has a surplus of available monetary assets, they will be ineligible for SSDI. Therefore, a special needs trust allows you to hold your child’s assets in a trust and distribute the funds and assets to your child over time as needed. 

Life Insurance 

Another way to support your special needs child is life insurance. ​​ Life insurance will ensure that your special needs child will continue to be financially supported. 

As difficult as it may be, planning for the unexpected can help ensure that your special needs child will be cared for even into their adult years, giving you the peace of mind you deserve. 

2. Get the Support that You Need

Going through a divorce is hard alone, and it becomes even more difficult when you have children involved. For that reason, you must take care of yourself throughout the proceedings. This will make it easier for you to care for your special needs child and continue to be a great parent. 

Some ways that you can take care of yourself are: 

  • Spending time with your friends and family
  • Taking a night off 
  • Considering counseling 
  • Joining a support group

In order to take care of your loved ones, you must take care of yourself first. Parents of children with special needs can also consider therapy or support groups for their children while they navigate their new lifestyle. 

3. Determine the Best Custody Arrangement for Your Child

Children generally struggle to navigate their new life after their parents’ divorce. They are faced with new surroundings, changes to their usual routines, and a disruption to the life they knew. These difficulties can be even more tumultuous to a special needs child. 

Parents will need to be especially mindful of changing the surroundings of a child with disabilities. 

For example, suppose your child is in a school with great disability programs. In that case, it may be in the best interests of the child to stay with that parent throughout the week, so the child can continue to go to school instead of transitioning to a brand-new school district. 

4. Work Out Financial Support for the Child 

When parents separate, it is common for one parent to be responsible for paying child support to the child’s primary caretaker. Generally, this support ends once the child reaches the age of 18. However, Arizona law provides for prolonged child support for children with special needs. 

Call a Family Law Attorney Today 

If you are struggling with navigating divorce while caring for a special needs child, the attorneys at Cohen Family Law can help. Reach out to us at our Phoenix, Arizona, office today.