Divorce is an exceptionally difficult process for the entire family. When there is a child with special needs involved in a divorce, this process can seem even more daunting. It is important to evaluate each aspect of the parenting plan contained in the final decree to ensure that it meets the child’s unique physical, financial and emotional needs.
Throughout your divorce, parents should reflect on the type of support their child needs to be able to thrive during and after the divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce, or if you are in the middle of a divorce, and you have a child with a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability, consider these three recommendations:
Day in the life
It is important for your attorney to understand your child’s daily needs, as well as understand who is the primary caretaker for your child. Your attorney will use this information in negotiating a parenting plan, including who will be the primary parent and a possession schedule. This information will also be critical if your case requires court hearings. Write down what a day in the life looks like for your child. Include even “small details” such as which parent handles tasks like dressing your child, preparing meals, helping with homework, and communicating with the school. The more information your attorney and the court have, the better they will be able to help design a parenting plan that fits your child’s unique needs.
Service Logs and Appointments Calendar
Keep a calendar of your child’s appointments, the types of services they are receiving, and who is responsible for making the appointments for the child. A calendar helps illustrate the number of appointments as well as the time and expense required to support the child. This can be used to show additional financial support is necessary.
Speak with your child’s providers about their recommendations as to how your child best processes transitions. You may have already discussed classroom transitions such as drop offs, pickups, transitioning between activities, or emotional transitions with your child’s teacher at their special education (IEP or ARD) meetings. Consider what works for your child in terms everyday tasks outside of school. Speak with your providers about their recommendations for supporting your child when you begin the new types of transitions associated with divorce. Where do they recommend you drop off and pick up the child for each period of possession? What types of conversations or activities might you have or do in preparing your child for a visit or a new type of exchange? If you are particularly concerned about your child’s ability to process transitions, you might consider consulting a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst in developing daily transition plans. The sooner you can begin this conversation with your child’s team, the more prepared you will be as you negotiate the parenting plan contained within your final divorce decree.
If you are facing divorce and have concerns about how to address your child’s special needs during the divorce, working with a family law attorney at Goranson Bain may make the process more manageable.