Divorce and Your Special Needs Child

During the divorce process, you must push harsh feelings and emotionally-driven decisions aside. It is important to think and act in a strategic manner, with an eye towards the long term outcome. This is especially the case when children with special needs are involved. 

Children with special needs range in abilities and potential. This article focuses on children with special needs, who will most likely be unable to live independently, and will therefore need financial, physical and emotional support as they move into the adult world. 

When special needs individuals each adulthood, a host of issues still remain. 

A typical child is assumed to move into adulthood and independence after graduating from high school.  Some will learn a vocation and others will go to college, but they are on the road to being independent adults. They will one day be able and expected to support themselves. However, special needs children will not be able to do those kinds of things upon turning 18. 

If you have a special needs child, there are many considerations you must address:

1. When our child turns 18 who will be their Guardian, and how will caregiving responsibilities be divided?

2. Will they need (and be eligible for) government assistance in the form of SSI and/or Medicaid?

3. Will they be able to earn income on their own?

4. If yes to both of the above, how much can he/she earn without affecting those government benefits?

5. What tools do we have to promote the utmost in independence, without diminishing much needed benefits?

6. What tools do we have to plan for this child to be taken care of after the parents pass away?

7. If my child needs more financial support to live after I am gone, how do we achieve that, who pays for it, and who manages it?

8. Once we have done all of the above, how does it get enforced, so that every team member performs as promised, and no one takes advantage of my child after I am gone?

Answering these questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues that must be discussed between the parents of a child with special needs, before the finalization of a divorce. 

This is the introductory post of a 10 part series of blog posts which will address each of these issues and more. Check back each Tuesday for a new installment, or contact O’Driscoll Keller Law Group to schedule a customized strategy session for your family. 

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