• calendar5th Oct 22 10:14 pm
  • userJamie

Divorcing When You Have A Special Needs Child

Child custody and support are difficult issues to navigate in any divorce. However, when a couple has a child with special needs and they decide to divorce, the considerations and arrangements become even more complex. Children with special needs may have unique financial, educational, and health considerations. In structuring a divorce agreement, parents need to take particular care in the creation of a suitable arrangement for their special needs child for both the present and future. If you are considering a divorce when you have a special needs child, consider visiting with the dedicated and compassionate attorneys at Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442.

Understanding the Special Needs Child

A divorce agreement should start with an honest discussion about your child’s abilities and disabilities, and a parenting plan should clearly spell out goals that are in the child’s best interest. As in any divorce, if the two spouses can work together, the process becomes less frustrating and expensive. This is especially true in cases involving a child with special needs. Once the parents have discussed the reality of the child’s situation, they can hopefully set personal issues aside as they work together to design the best parenting plan for their child. It is important to keep in mind that your special needs child in Colorado may have unique educational and medical needs that will make your custody arrangement and financial arrangements look different than other divorces.

Your Special Needs Child and Your Divorce

One of the key issues in parenting through a divorce is allowing your child to process his or her feelings, and this may include therapy. Every child is different, and your child’s special needs may require specific treatment to deal with the additional stress caused by the divorce situation. It is also crucial to consider how positive social interactions may help the child during the divorce process.

A child with special needs may or may not understand the reasons for the divorce, so it is important to handle the divorce in a mature way around your child. Some ways to help your child understand may include:

  • Tell your child about the divorce together with your spouse, if possible
  • Be alert to signs that show how they are internalizing the divorce
  • Affirm to your child that he or she is loved, accepted and cared for by both parents
  • Assure your child that the divorce is not his or her fault

One of the best gifts you can give your special needs child is working together in an amicable way to ensure that the transition to a new “normal” after the divorce for your child is as easy as possible. Contact the experienced Colorado divorce family lawyers at Colorado Divorce Law Group to learn more about how you can make your divorce more amicable on behalf of your children.

Child Custody Matters

The court and the attorneys involved will need to understand the foundational concepts involved in caring for your special needs child, and it will help to outline the daily routine of your child. Whereas some child custody arrangements have a child spend time back and forth with each parent, this may be too disruptive for a young person with special needs. Some children with unique challenges or disabilities may require consistent medical appointments or special therapy sessions, making it difficult to accommodate a typical custody schedule. Make sure to think not only about your child’s current situation, but also the care that they will require as they get older. Consider a comprehensive strategy and plan to take care of your special needs child for all of the years following your divorce.

Child Support Matters

Child support matters also differ in the circumstance of a special needs child. Consider the following factors involved in child support calculations that are unique to families with special needs children.


There are typically extra financial obligations involved when parents have a child with special needs. There are added expenses for medical care, equipment, and educational or therapeutic services. There may be unique nutritional needs, vitamins, and medications. Additionally, the custodial parent may need to pay for a special school, therapy, and parental respite care. If the needs of the child require one parent to stay home to provide care, alimony (spousal support) may be required. Understanding the financial issues of a special needs child is crucial when determining child support or alimony amounts.


If your special needs child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), child support payments may interfere with the child’s SSI benefits, unless the court order specifically allows for this. For a minor child who benefits from SSI, two-thirds of child support payments are considered the same as income. After the child turns 18, 100% minus $20 of child support is regarded as income, and SSI benefits might be discontinued without proper preparation made in advance.

Estate Plan

Any divorce agreement should include support provisions as the child transitions into adulthood since the child may or may not be able to live independently and provide for themself in the future. Parents of a special needs child need a thoughtful and solid estate plan in place as part of the divorce agreement. Consider visiting with an experienced attorney who can help divorcing parents maximize their child’s benefits and plan wisely for their child’s future.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Child custody and support become more complex in a divorce when there is a child with special needs involved. The experienced divorce attorneys at Colorado Divorce Law Group can help you understand your rights and help ensure that your child with special needs gets the care and support they deserve. Call us today at (720) 593-6442 for a free consultation to ensure your child gets the support they deserve. We look forward to helping you and your special needs child during this difficult time.