Very few, if any, parents decide to bring a child into the world only to find themselves in a situation where they have to be apart from them. For some parents, being apart from their child isn’t even an option. This is often the case for children with special needs kids, who rely on one of their parents as their primary caregiver.
There are many factors that can all make negotiating custody for a special needs child complicated — far more complicated than ordinary custody issues.
The logistics that must be considered
Raising a special needs child usually requires parents to attend more frequent doctors’ visits. You may also need to use a certain type of vehicle or make special arrangements to get your child where they need to go. Your child likely needs to follow a set routine regarding when you give them medication or feed them. They may also need to use expensive or heavy equipment at set intervals throughout the day.
Any schedule that you devise will have to account for these logistics.
You might find it helpful to consider bird’s nest custody, whereby your child remains in the home while you and your co-parent switch out to ensure that you don’t have to move your child’s equipment or disrupt their routine. If that doesn’t work, then you may want to devise a schedule whereby each of you keeps your child for a longer period so that there’s not constant transportation back and forth.
While insurance or government benefits may cover some of the costs associated with your child’s care, there are steps that parents must take to ensure they have a full-time caregiver for their child. If a parent has to leave their job to assume this role, then the other parent’s child support obligation may need to be somewhat higher than normal. Co-parents may also need to fund a trust to ensure that their special needs child can continue receiving government benefits while also being able to afford uncovered expenses that may arise in the future.
When your divorce involves a child with special needs
The scheduling needs and costs of raising a special needs child can complicate an already difficult discussion about child custody and support. You may find it helpful to have someone who’s experienced in handling such negotiations walk you through yours.