Special Needs Children and Divorce

California family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer recently discussed particular issues that arise in divorce cases involving special needs children:

A parenting plan for the typical child may not be appropriate for an autistic child or one with other developmental issues. For example, it’s not unusual for the typical 3 year-old child to be able to have overnight stays with the non-custodial parent. She can understand the concept of time and that she will see her other parent again. The special-needs child often has difficulty with transitions, she is comforted by the familiar and doesn’t like changes in environment. Likewise, she may not be unable to express herself verbally nor to understand abstract concepts like time. Custody and visitation decisions for a special-needs child must take into account many issues like these.

In terms of child support, beyond the mandated state guidelines, the Court may order a range of add-on expenses for various therapies (physical, occupational, speech, psychotherapy), special schools, tutoring and medication. Support may even extend into adulthood if it is unlikely that the child will be able to work as an adult.

Section 743.07, Florida Statutes, specifically provides that a court may order child support for a dependent beyond the age of 18 if he or she has a “mental or physical incapacity” which began prior to the dependent turning 18.

If you have questions concerning divorcechild support, or parenting plans, and you wish to speak with a local family law firm, you may schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.

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