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Strategies for navigating divorce with special needs children

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Divorce |

Few things are as challenging for Maryland residents as going through a divorce while caring for a child with special needs. Caring for a beautiful son or daughter with special needs as a single parent requires future planning as the well-being and protection of the child.

Challenges unique to a divorce when special needs children are involved

During the divorce involving a child with special needs, complex custody issues, questions of visitation, and property division can become more challenging to negotiate. The custodial parent must have a global vision of their child’s needs during the negotiation and when talking to their attorney.

Most child support charts don’t factor in the added expenses of caring for a child with special needs. These include medical care, equipment, specialized service, and possibly paid respite care for the parent who gets custody. Uncertainty surrounding the cost and the nature of future care can make it challenging to accurately determine disability-related expenses in a divorce agreement.

Factors to consider when preparing a divorce agreement

The goal is to determine what will be in the child’s best interests. Factors to consider include:

  • The amount of access or visitation a legal guardian or parent will be allowed to have
  • Who will pay and who will receive child support
  • The amount of child support that will be paid
  • Where the child will live

While structuring the divorce agreement, special attention should be given to estate planning and how the child will be cared for as they transfer into adulthood. Divorcing parents who have children with special needs that are severely impaired may need to discuss lifelong co-parenting or caregiving.

Although planning for divorce when a child with special needs is involved can be nerve-racking, it can make things easier for all parties involved long-term. Now is the time for the divorcing couple to start thinking about making decisions that will be in their child’s long-term best interest.


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