Divorce Settlement With A Special Needs Child

April 20, 2022

Divorce Settlement With A Special Needs Child

Most divorces can be difficult and stressful for every member of the family, but those that involve special needs children often involve their own set of unique complications. Accounting for custody agreements, child support, alimony, and other concerns in divorces with special needs children is often more complex than in divorces with no special needs children. When constructing a divorce settlement with special needs children, it is imperative to make sure that the child’s best interests are considered and that he or she is provided with the full support needed. Additionally, a thorough divorce agreement should plan for the child’s future needs. If you are going through a divorce involving a special needs child, the family law attorneys at the Johnson Law Group are ready to help you develop a strong divorce settlement that meets the needs of your family. Consider contacting our Denver divorce attorneys today at (720) 463-4333 to learn more about including a special needs child in a divorce agreement.

Custody Arrangements in Divorces Involving Special Needs Children

Ideally, both parents will work together to develop a custody arrangement that addresses the needs of their child. This may not always be possible, however, such as when a divorce involves domestic violence. Even in divorces without any type of violence or abuse, both parents often find it difficult to put aside their differences in order to make sure that their child has all the resources he or she deserves. Special needs parents who are going through a divorce should ask the following questions when working towards a custody arrangement:

  • Does the child have the mental and emotional capacity to deal with splitting time between two homes? Some special needs children struggle with frequent changes and require more stability than others.
  • Will it be safe and feasible to transport the child between the two households?
  • Do both parents understand how to care for the child’s needs?
  • If the child can handle spending time at each parent’s home, how will the custody be divided?
  • If only one parent receives custody, what will the visitation rights be for the other parent?
  • How much time will each parent spend caring for the child following the divorce?

In Colorado, parents have the option to arrive at a custody agreement before going to court. In cases that do end up in family court, the court will make decisions based on what it deems to be the “best interests of the child,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

How Does Child Support Work in a Divorce with a Special Needs Child?

Child support in a divorce settlement with special needs children varies significantly from a divorce involving children without special needs. In other types of divorces, the court will likely order one spouse to provide child support until the child’s 18th birthday. However, in divorces involving special needs children, child support obligations can extend into adulthood. This is known as a continuing support obligation and varies by state. According to the Colorado Child Support Guidelines, these payments may continue indefinitely if the child is unable to become self-supportive because of a physical or mental disability.

Parents who want to ensure that their special needs child receives the full support they deserve often turn to experienced divorce attorneys for legal guidance. The Denver family lawyers at Johnson Law Group help parents document all relevant expenses and negotiate a fair divorce settlement with special needs children. Both the current needs and future needs of the child should be considered when negotiating the settlement.

Spousal Maintenance in Divorces with Special Needs Children

In some divorces with special needs children, the spouse who receives majority custody may need to make lifestyle changes to balance his or her professional life and the obligation to care for the child. Some parents may need to quit their jobs entirely or transition to part-time work, as full-time childcare can be extremely time-consuming. In cases where such circumstances apply, the court may consider these income changes when determining how much spousal support, which is also known as alimony, the other spouse will be obligated to provide.

Incorporating a Parenting Plan into a Special Needs Divorce Settlement

Divorcing parents of special needs children should work together to develop a parenting plan that outlines how the parenting responsibilities will be shared following the divorce. In cases where the parents cannot arrive at an agreement independently, a family law court may institute a parenting plan tailored to what it deems to be the best interests of the child.

Each parenting plan will be different depending on the family’s unique situation. However, several important factors should be included in most parenting plans for special needs children:

  • How often the child will visit each parent and when these visits will occur
  • Who will have custody of the child during holidays
  • Which parent will be responsible for education and healthcare decisions
  • Travel guidelines
  • Which parent will be in charge of extracurricular activities
  • How disputes between the parents will be solved
  • Whether each parent’s home will be equipped for the needs of the child
  • Which parent lives closer to special needs schools and programs

Contact a Colorado Family Law Attorney for More Information

Going through a divorce with a special needs child is often more stressful and complicated than other types of divorces. Many families in this situation can benefit from hiring a family law attorney. A compassionate attorney can help to ensure that the client receives adequate child support and alimony, to draft parenting plans that address the child’s needs, and to resolve disputes with the client’s former spouse. A team of dedicated Denver divorce attorneys helps divorcing parents negotiate divorce settlements that suit both the client and the children, accounting for the family’s unique needs. If you are seeking a divorce settlement with special needs children, consider contacting the Johnson Law Group today at (720) 463-4333 to schedule a consultation.

Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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