Special Needs Custody Issues

A parent and child making a pinky promise.Custody litigation is stressful for everyone involved, and that includes the children.  Separation and divorce means big changes for the children, as they will need to adjust to having two separate households, and sometimes also a new school and set of friends.  These challenges are difficult for any child, but special needs children have unique custody issues that need to be considered.

For many special needs children, making adjustments is particularly difficult.  They may thrive off of unwavering structure and really require having the same home and routine every day.  Your special needs child may need to have the same parent get him ready for school, use the same bus stop, and just generally follow the same morning procedure.  When you are creating the parenting plan for your child, keep in mind that although some children will do well with an equal shared parenting plan, your child may need to wake up and get ready in the same household every day.  If this describes your child, you need to explore other parenting time arrangements.

Another consideration is whether your child requires a high number of medical appointments.  Some special needs children have extreme medical needs and may have to see therapists or specialists several times a week.  A workable parenting time schedule for this child will need to be structured such that the parent who has the ability to timely get the child to those appointments is able to do so.

Third, if both parents are going to have to relocate out of the current school district, you both need to pay special attention to the educational opportunities for special needs children available in each district.  If one district offers better counseling, teaching, or special needs team, it may be best for the parent residing in that district to be named the primary parent in order to meet any residency requirements.  Remember that will not mean the other parent does not get to have input into the educational issues facing the child, only that one parent could be the primary parent for purposes of school district requirements.

When considering which residence and what type of living arrangement will be best for your special needs child, you should work closely with the child’s teachers, therapists, and health care providers.  They know your child well and have likely assisted other parents and patients with crafting a parenting time schedule that will meet the needs of the special needs child.

If you have questions about custody and special-needs children, let us answer them. Call us today at (651) 371-9117 and we can talk to you about your child and what we can do to help you.