Divorcing With A Special Needs Child

January 5, 2021

Every divorce that involves children can prove emotionally and financially challenging. Every parent wants what is best for their child. When two parents have a special needs child, however, there are more specific issues that need attention as that child may have needs that far surpass typical needs of a minor child. In some cases, a special needs child will need financial and medical support for the rest of their life. If you are divorcing with a special needs child, consider visiting with an experienced divorce attorney at Johnson Law Group at (720) 452-2540 or through Text-to-Chat at (720) 730-4558 today.

Consider the Following Questions Regarding a Divorce with a Special Needs Child

Every divorce can seem overwhelming. Millions of questions without immediate answers arise, and the process can feel insurmountable. Before you begin the process of divorce, which may include the equitable division of marital assets, child support calculations, child visitation schedules, and possibly spousal support, take the time to consider the following questions to ensure that your special needs child’s financial, emotional, and physical well-being are taken into account, both now and in the future.


  • What are your current medical and daily financial needs for your child? What do you expect those to be in the future? (Visiting with a life care specialist or experienced family law attorney can help you better understand how to calculate these amounts.)
  • What is your ability to access and benefit from any public benefits that your child may be entitled to?
  • Does one parent need to stay home and not work in order to take care of the child? In some cases, the education requirements include having a parent stay with a child during the day, and in other cases, the medical appointments are so frequent that it would prohibit a parent from engaging in full-time work.
  • Who will be responsible to take the child to medical appointments? Who will be responsible for making sure that the child adheres to all medical and physical therapy or other important requirements for their health?
  • How will the child adapt to moving out of the marital home? Would it be best for the child to stay in the home to which they are accustomed?
  • Will the child have the ability to work and live independently in the future?
  • Will both parents have joint custody? What will be the actual logistics of moving the child between homes? Would it be better for the child to stay in one home, and the parents to move instead? There are many creative ways to ensure that the needs of a child are met in unique circumstances.
  • How will child support payments impact the ability of a child to receive Supplemental Security Income payments or Medicaid?
  • Which parent will keep the child on their health insurance?
  • What plans are in place if a child’s condition worsens or improves over time?


These questions are just a sampling of the types of issues that face parents with special needs children. Take a full account of all of the medical, psychological, and financial needs of your child prior to engaging in any divorce negotiations.

Future Financial Considerations and a Special Needs Child

Visiting with an experienced divorce attorney at Johnson Law Group can help you understand all of the other considerations you should take into account in your divorce negotiations. Some of the future financial considerations of your special needs child may need to include the following:

Life Insurance

In some divorce cases involving special needs children, one spouse will be required to keep a life insurance policy to cover the total amount of child support they would have to pay throughout their life in the event of their death. This type of life insurance policy can ensure that your special needs child has financial support throughout their life they need. Consider requesting that your child’s parent provide you with a copy of the annual policy to ensure that they are maintaining a valid life insurance policy according to the divorce decree.

Special Needs Trust

If your spouse does set up a life insurance policy as indicated above, the beneficiary can be a special needs trust. Establishing a special needs trust can be beneficial and be used to direct any retirement or pension money or life insurance proceeds directly for the special needs child’s financial well being. The divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group are also experienced estate planning attorneys and can help you understand the benefits of this type of trust for your child.

Decision Making Authority and the Special Needs Child

There are unique considerations to take into account with a divorce involving a special needs child. Make sure to take the time to seriously consider the amount of involvement and financial needs with respect to your child in the following areas after your divorce:


  • Educational Decision Making - Who will make the educational decisions regarding your special needs child after your divorce? What will happen if the educational needs differ drastically from the time of the divorce?
  • Medical Decision Making - Many special needs children have extensive medical challenges that require medications, operations, procedures, therapy and more. Make sure to articulate clearly which parent has the right to make those decisions, or if both parents have an equal right to medical deicsion making in the future.


Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney For Help With Your Divorce Involving a Special Needs Child

If you have a special needs child, you have much more to consider and take into account in the process of divorce. In some cases, your child may need years or a lifetime of medical, emotional, and financial support. If you want to ensure that your special needs child’s financial and legal rights remain protected throughout their lifetime after your divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or through Text-to-Chat at (720) 730-4558 today. Our compassionate attorneys can ensure that you receive all of the legal options available to you so that you can make the best decision for your child.

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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