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Special needs children and custody issues: What to consider

On Behalf of | May 25, 2021 | Child Custody

When parents of a child with special needs divorce, it’s an added complication to a situation that’s already got plenty of potential problems.

Normally, parenting plans and issues involving custody and visitation can be sorted out fairly easily, but any plans involving a child with special needs must be carefully evaluated with the child’s unique limitations in mind. Thinking ahead can help you come up with a better plan for the future.

Co-parenting a special needs child involves figuring in multiple logistics concerns

It’s not uncommon for one parent to be a child’s 24-hour caregiver when there are special needs. You must have a plan in place for who will care for your child when they’re in the other parent’s custody if a custodial exchange is going to work. 

Special needs children may also have certain routines in place, whether it’s going to the bathroom, doctor or eating. They may require the use of specific equipment to regularly carry out certain activities. You’ll need to ensure that whatever parenting plan you and your ex come up with will allow your child to maintain a consistent routine. 

Custody schedules that may be most effective in raising a special needs child

The custodial agreement that works best for a special needs child will likely vary depending on the case. A “bird’s nest” approach — where your child lives in one place and you and your co-parent rotate in and out on your parenting schedule — is one possible option. 

Making arrangements for a third-party caregiver to come into the non-24 caregiving parent’s home may be an option if trade-offs are going to occur. In a case such as that, it may be necessary for a third party to also transport your child to their appointments or to move their equipment from one parent’s home to the next. Arranging for your child to spend more extended periods at each parent’s home may be warranted if you’re going to take such an approach.

Most family law attorneys who handle custody matters will have experience helping other parents craft parenting plans in cases like yours. Your attorney will be able to use their experience and insight in helping you craft a plan in your case.