Child custody issues are usually the most stressful and emotional parts of a divorce proceeding. Coming to an amicable agreement on which parents can provide the best care and environment for the child can cause a lot of strife.
When the child has special needs, there are more complicated issues to take into consideration.
Considerations for Custodial, Joint, or Shared Custody
A divorcing couple with children must keep the best interests of the child as their priority. It is not an easy thing to do when resentments, anger, and emotions are part of the equation. For a child with special needs, it is imperative that these decisions be made to protect the standard of care the child has received and will continue to need.
Each parent of a special needs child has to look objectively at what their personal situation will be after the divorce. Are they emotionally capable of assuming the level of care needed by the child as a single parent? Will their job or career prevent them from being present for the required amount of time necessary to properly care for the child? Do they have the skills and knowledge necessary to administer proper care?
When parents cannot amicably agree on custody arrangements, the courts will consider which parent has been the primary caretaker, and which parent will most likely be able to continue to provide the same level of care.
This does not mean that the primary caregiver in the marriage will automatically be granted custodial rights. The other parent wishing to assume the role of caretaker will also be considered, again with the best interests of the child as the priority in the decision-making process.
Financial Considerations in Caring for a Special Needs Child
The medical, educational, and palliative needs of a special needs child can be enormous. Depending on the level of disability, these costs can be lifelong and increase in amounts that are hard to predict. Not only does each parent have to recognize their physical and emotional abilities to care for their child, but they also need to consider how they will contribute to the financial demands in the future.
In cases where severe disabilities exist that may prevent a child from living independently or working in the future, parents must decide how this child will be provided for in the future when they are adults. Educational expenses, medical treatments and assistive devices, as well as physical care of a severely disabled child can exceed insurance caps and affect the retirement plans for each parent.
A custody plan in this situation must take into consideration inflation, cost of living, and the needs of the child now, as they grow, and into their adult years.
In some cases, special needs trusts, public benefits, long term insurance, and gifting plans can ease some of the financial burdens associated with the cost of providing for a special needs child.
Divorcing couples must consider all aspects in their child custody agreement.
Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Children with Special Needs
If you or someone you know is involved in a child custody dispute concerning a child with special needs, call the Somerville child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. at 908-575-9777, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Somerville offices serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.