Divorce for any child can be a very difficult. For a child with a physical, developmental, or mental disability, the change in routine and lost time with a parent can be even more traumatic. Texas parents with special needs children should pay extra attention to the child’s home and schedule, insurance eligibility, as well as who will have rights to make important decisions about the child’s life.
If parents do not see eye to eye on their child’s abilities, needs and future, the decisions that must be made during a divorce can be contentious. Parents may want to consult a Texas divorce attorney for help in crafting a parenting plan that best meets the special needs of the child.
Drafting a Parenting Plan That Meets Your Child’s Special Needs
One main consideration is the child’s home and routine. Divorcing parents will need to consider how a child with a disability will split time with both parents – parents may want to consider alternative visitation schedules, such as one that allows the parent to come to the child’s home, rather than the child moving between the parents’ homes. This may allow the child to better maintain a routine if that is critical for his or her health and development.
Some children may need modifications in their homes or vehicles to accommodate assistive technology, such as handicap accessible ramps, but most insurers will only cover one medical apparatus or device for the child. Thus, parents should take such limitations into account when developing a parenting plan.
When parents cannot agree on the need for medication, therapies, or educational opportunities, a special needs child’s health may suffer. If disagreements occur frequently, it may be best for the child if one parent makes most decisions to maintain consistency.
Other Considerations for Divorces Involving a Child With a Disability
Texas child support guidelines allow a judge to order child support for the life of a disabled child, if necessary. Texas law also takes into account the child’s special needs and extraordinary health care, educational and medical expenses to set a child support amount.
Certain child support payments may be considered to determine eligibility for SSI and Medicaid, which can be critical to pay for expensive medications and therapies for special needs kids. To avoid jeopardizing government benefit eligibility, parents need to plan carefully during the divorce.