Even in the best of circumstances, having a child who has special needs presents challenges for the entire family. When the parents of the child realize that they can’t remain in a romantic relationship, the challenges that are present in everyday life will likely intensify as they try to work through the child custody matters. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an easy fix for trying to work through all this.
There are three primary concerns for parents who are going through a divorce and who have a child with special needs.
- Logistical: Logistical concerns are present when the child has special transportation needs, such as using a vehicle that’s wheelchair compatible. It might also be a consideration when there is special medical equipment that’s needed. It’s important for both parents to be able to meet the needs of a child who requires specialized transportation and for both homes to be able to accommodate a child who uses special medical equipment.
- Financial: Medical care and other costs for your child need to be discussed. Coming up with a firm agreement about who pays for what and how shared expenses are handled can save you a lot of trouble in the future. The medical, educational and physical needs of a child with special needs may also be considered if one party is asking for child support above the guidelines established by the state.
- Medical: The medical care decisions must be discussed. If you and your ex can work together, you might share the decision-making power. If not, one person might be awarded the right to make invasive medical decisions exclusively decisions. Discuss how major decisions, routine decisions and emergency situations will be handled.
The parenting plan that you and your ex establish must be set up to address the needs of your child. It should be realistic, but both sides must remember that there will likely be situations that come up that require at least a slight deviation from the plan. Being able to work as a team in those cases can reduce the stress you feel, and it will benefit your child.