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Special Needs Children and Custody


Divorces always involve emotional and financial challenges. However, when a special needs child is involved in a divorce, both child custody and child support issues can become even more complex. Children with special emotional and physical needs oftentimes require additional care, support, classes, therapy or medical treatment than other children their same age. Therefore, the requirements of child custody, as well as child support, may differ greatly than standardized or typical outcomes regarding these matters.

Understanding a Special Needs Child

A special needs child could have challenges either emotionally, mentally, or physically. In some cases, special needs children will require additional support in all of these areas. The most ideal circumstance would be that both parents are enthusiastic to provide both emotional and financial support to the child. The court will seriously look at how each parent has handled their responsibilities with respect to the child and how they intend to provide for that child in the future. If one parent has always been the one to take a child to physical therapy, doctor’s visits, stay with them during the school day to provide additional assistance, or work on their challenges closely with them, the court may not want to disrupt that pattern. This may affect both the custody arrangement and the child support calculations.

Additionally, if a special needs child will continue to need emotional, physical and financial support after becoming an adult, a court may address these issues as well during a divorce. In many cases, a special needs child may not be able to financially support themselves in the future or be able to live independently. Therefore, estate planning or financial issues may be vastly different in divorces that involved special needs children.

Child Custody

The court is always interested in the best interest of the child. In the case of a special needs child, a court will want to ensure that the environment provided after a divorce is not too disruptive to the child emotionally, mentally, physically or financially. Depending on the type of special need that the child has, changing homes may be too disruptive for them on a weekly basis. Creative solutions may need to be found to ensure that a child is both comfortable as well as has the interaction with both parents on a regular and continual basis. Unique arrangements can be made such as having the parents move in and out of the same home on a weekly basis allowing a child to stay in the same home, or having one parent visit at the home of the child on a regular basis.

Child Support

Special needs children may attend a special school, need physical, emotional or speech therapy or have numerous medical appointments. Therefore, in light of the additional resources needed by a special needs child, the child support calculations may look very different than traditional ones.

Let Us Help You Today

A special needs child may require additional and creative planning regarding matters such as child custody, estate planning, child support, and alimony during a divorce.  The Atlanta family attorneys at The Solomon Firm can protect both your rights and the rights of your special needs child during this challenging time. Call our compassionate and understanding legal team at 404-565-0641 today for a free consultation.



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