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Special-Needs Children and Divorce

A special-needs child may benefit from special considerations during and after divorce.
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    SUGAR LAND, TX, December 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Divorce is difficult for all members of a family, but it can be particularly challenging for children with disabilities. When parents of a disabled child or child with special needs decide to end their marriage, they need to take extra care to ensure the well-being of their child during divorce proceedings and after a divorce is final.

The term special needs can refer to a broad range of issues, including physical disabilities, medical conditions, autism, emotional problems, developmental delays and disabilities, learning disabilities, and other needs. Children facing such issues may have a greater need for a stable routine and security, which can be disrupted during divorce. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, a divorce decree can be specifically tailored to the current and future needs of a child with a disability.

Determining The Best Interests Of A Disabled Child

As part of divorce proceedings, parents are awarded certain rights and responsibilities to their children. In Texas, these rights and responsibilities are called conservatorship. Carefully allocating these responsibilities is critical for parents of children with disabilities, because they often need extensive medical care, educational services and other unique considerations. To make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, divorcing parents may need to consult outside experts. They will need to make decisions about:

- Possession: This is the time a parent spends with a child. Parents of children with special needs may need to carefully structure their parenting plan to work with their children's needs. For example, a typical visitation schedule may not work for your child, and you may need to make special arrangements for your child and any necessary equipment to travel between households.

- Support: Children with special needs may require expensive care. To make sure that the financial responsibilities are adequately allocated, support arrangements may need to deviate from Texas standard guidelines. If a parent must stay home to care for a special-needs child, this lost opportunity to earn income may factor into spousal maintenance or alimony.

- Education: Children with disabilities often receive special education at school. As part of a divorce, parents need to agree on who can make decisions about the child's education and how the costs of extra educational expenses will be covered.

These are only some of the factors that parents of special-needs children must consider for their child's immediate future. Parents in these situations may also need to consider their child's unique future needs as well. Depending on the extent of a child's need or disability, a divorce may need to take into account the child's needs as an adult. Guardianship, post-secondary education and living arrangements may all need to be taken into consideration because some children with special needs may not reach independence at the same rate that other children do.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you have a special-needs child and are considering a divorce, hiring the right attorney is important to help you reach a divorce agreement that takes into account your child's special needs and situation. Experienced family law attorneys will become familiar with your child's disability or needs and will help you create an appropriate plan for your child.

Our law firm provides experienced representation for family law matters in Sugar Land and other cities in the Houston area. To learn more about how we can help you, visit

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Simon W. Hendershot III
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