Divorce and Your Special Needs Child: Blog Post 2

Priorities – Creating your new life in the best way for you and your special needs child

You are processing your emotions in a productive way with the help of a trained professional.  You have your business mindset on…now think about what you want your new life to look like.  

Do you want to stay in the marital home?  Do you want your kids to stay in the same neighborhood and school?  Is it time to make a completely fresh start?  You are getting a “do-over”. It is important to take the opportunity to remove the parts of your life that are not working and replace them with things that will feed your soul and encourage you to live out your purpose. If you take the time to intentionally create your new life the way you want it, you will be happier and more fulfilled in the long run. 

Vision boards are a great way to visualize a new life. There are many ways to make them. Here is a link to some ideas to get you started:

As you think through your new life, decide what takes priority, and what is negotiable. Ask yourself questions, such as: is staying in your current home important to you, or is this the perfect time to change your environment to something better suited to you?

Think about the assets you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have accumulated.  Which of those are more most important to you?  The truth about divorce is that nobody wins 100%.  The family, assets and debts all get divided. When taking this into account, make a list now of what your priorities are moving you forward into your new life.

If you have a great career, increasing your monthly income may not be that important to you, meaning that receiving alimony is a low priority.  If you have always wanted to live at the beach, keeping the marital home in the suburbs may not be that important to you.  Everything in a divorce is negotiable – up until you go to trial….and then the Judge decides how things will be divided.  However, it is always desirable to make your own rules and your own Agreements on how things are divided.  The courts encourage reaching an Agreement outside of Court, and your case can be settled with the help of a good lawyer. 

A critical part of the negotiation and prioritization process for a family with a child with special needs is to assess what that child’s needs are expected to be.  Will your child be able to earn some money?  Will they qualify for government benefits?  What extraordinary needs are they expected to need in the future?  Will they need skilled nursing care, a nanny, or will they be able to go work each day?

If your child is expected to need additional assistance into adulthood, discuss the need to put aside funds now, in a Special Needs Trust. Decide who will be in charge of investing those funds and if you will need a plan for adding additional funds in the future. 

These issues are critical for you to discuss and agree upon before finalizing the divorce.  Many states do not have provisions in their laws for the Courts to order parents to support their child after they become adults. Failing to agree upon these issues while your divorce is pending leaves you and your child at a great disadvantage, and potentially in a vulnerable position down the road. 

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