Special Considerations for Divorced Parents with Disabled Children


A Pasadena divorce, while a traumatic event for most children, can be especially difficult for children suffering from a disability. For example, children with disabilities that affect their intellectual development may not be able to fully comprehend the idea of their parents living apart. Children with conditions such as autism may regress when forced to deal with such a drastic change in their environment.

Although all parents should strive to minimize conflict during a divorce, this is particularly important when disabled children are involved. There are also four issues that parents of children with disabilities will need to be concerned with as they are preparing for divorce: visitation agreements, the child's education, the child's medical treatment, and the child's social needs.

Visitation agreements that involve disabled children usually focus on having the child spend longer periods of time with each parent in order to minimize the amount of transitions that are necessary. Parents are encouraged to work together to maintain as much consistency in the home environment as possible.

Schools generally grant both parents access to educational records, so they can remain actively involved in the child's education. The disabled child's IEP may be needed to prepare the divorce settlement.

Medical decision-making involves determining who will be responsible for health insurance coverage and how non-covered expenses will be handled. The divorce settlement should be as specific as possible in this regard to avoid problems down the road.

Social opportunities for disabled children are very important. This may require parents working together to coordinate transportation, regardless of who is acting as the custodial parent at any given time. Responsibility for extra fees associated with these activities also needs to be decided.

If the disabled child is expected to need care well into the adult years, estate planning services may be needed in addition to the basic planning steps that are mentioned above. An experienced Pasadena divorce lawyer will be able to direct you to experts in this area who can make sure your child will be provided for regardless of your marital status.