For co-parents of a child with special needs, it is not uncommon to disagree about decisions related to particular treatments and therapies for their child. There are also times when parents are unable to agree about the nature of a child’s disability and its effect, or lack thereof, on the child’s daily life.
Co-parents who find themselves in such a situation can address their issues in a number of ways. First, co-parents may find it helpful to engage a neutral third-party to assist them in the decision-making process. This can be done through a Parenting Coordinator, which is a trained professional who helps co-parents improve their communication and resolve disputes. Parenting Coordinators can work with co-parents for an extended period of time. Additionally, co-parents may find it helpful to attend mediation in order to have a neutral third-party help them reach an Agreement on difficult issues. Under both of these options, the co-parents contribute to the ultimate outcome, thereby retaining control over the resolution.
Any co-parent who wishes to use the above-mentioned alternatives to court intervention should consult with an attorney who can help to ensure that all of the ongoing issues related to your child’s special needs are addressed. Some of these issues may include modifying parenting time (to ensure that your child’s medical care and therapeutic appointments are met) and decision-making (medical, educational, and day-to-day).
Alternatively, a co-parent can seek court intervention by making an application to the court. Under this scenario, the parties’ issues are placed before the Court to be resolved. The type of application made to the Court depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. A co-parent may find it best to make an application for sole legal custody, which would mean that one parent is the sole decision-maker for the child and would not need to confer with the other parent regarding decisions related to the child’s health, education, welfare and safety. Conversely, a particular situation may call for an application to modify the non-custodial parent’s custody and/or the parenting time agreement so that the custodial parent can ensure that the special needs child is with him or her on the days and times that there is a medical or therapeutic appointment.
Addressing disputes related to caring for a special needs child can be complex. If you find yourself in a situation like this, it is important that you consult with an attorney to ensure you understand the different options available to you. The skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates are available to speak with you and answer any questions that you may have. We invite you to contact us or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment.