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Complications when parents of a special needs child divorce

Parenting a child with special needs is challenging in itself, but if you and your spouse are not getting along, this may multiply your struggles. Your child's disability may make it difficult to share custody, creating tension between you and your co-parent. Fortunately, your spouse's child support payments will help with medical care and other necessities, easing the financial burden.

However, child support typically ends when the child reaches the age of majority, usually 19. The court may extend the time if the child is in college or for other reasons. In your situation, however, there is no promise that your child will reach a point where he or she will no longer need support. Resolving these issues is crucial to the well-being of your child and your own peace of mind.

The logistics of shared parenting

Divorcing parents of special needs children often find that sharing custody is too hard on the child and too costly on the parents. It may entail:

  • Obtaining a second set of medical equipment
  • Adapting both homes to accommodate the child's particular disabilities
  • Disrupting the child's normal routine
  • Working closely with your ex-spouse to ensure the safety and health of your child during the transition

If you and your spouse are able to arrive at an agreeable plan for custody and visitation, it will certainly provide an optimal starting point for your post-divorce parenting situation.

What happens when child support runs out?

Like many other states, Colorado law stipulates that, in most circumstances, a supporting parent must provide assistance until a child turns 19. What will happen after that? How will you afford your child's medical expenses and education? Who will pay for therapy or rehabilitation? Will financial hardships force you to deny your child the services he or she needs?

The court may order your spouse to provide continued support for your child if you demonstrate the need for such assistance. It will help to have professional legal guidance in this area. If there is reason to believe the court will deny such an extension, you and your spouse may consider setting up a trust for the child as part of the divorce negotiations.

You are not alone

You are probably dealing with so many emotions that you can hardly think straight. Having to consider such complex issues may be too difficult at this time. Fortunately, Colorado and other states place the needs of the child first, and if you have the right legal advocate, you may be able to achieve a resolution that will benefit you and your child. Having an experienced attorney to negotiate on your behalf may improve your ability to provide for the special needs of your very special child.  

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