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Will your divorce accommodate your child's special needs?

When you are the parent of a special needs child and you are going through a divorce, you and your child will face even more challenges than parents of children without disabilities endure.

While most divorcing parents struggle with working out issues involving custody, visitation and more, these matters become more complicated when special needs kids are involved.

It can be hard for someone who is unfamiliar with you and your child's daily struggles to fully understand the issues with which you and your son or daughter must cope. It's vital that you explain to your family law attorney in great detail everything that you and your child go through on an average day so that he or she has a good grasp of all that entails.

If the parents can't reach accord on issues involving a special needs child in the divorce, the Texas courts will make those decision with your child's best interests in mind. They might include:

-- Detailed parenting plans illustrating the care your child must receive to accommodate both his or her abilities and disabilities

-- Living, visitation and custody arrangements

-- Future care plans for the child as he or she matures

You and your ex may even want to include provisions for how your child will be financially provided for after the two of you have passed away. This may involve the purchase of life insurance policies naming the child as beneficiary.

Spousal support can become an issue if one parent stays home to care for the special needs child. Ask your family law attorney if a special needs trust would be appropriate to set up for your child.

While most divorcing parents have an end in sight for their childcare duties, special needs kids can require life-long assistance with personal care and daily activities. You and your ex have to hash out who will be responsible for which aspects of your son's or daughter's care and how this will be financed.

Property settlements involving cash payments could disrupt assistance to your child from means-tested programs like Medicaid or Social Security. It's important that the two of you work together to structure any settlements to ensure that your child's benefits remain intact.

Source: Special Needs Alliance, "Divorce and Children with Special Needs," Lili A. Vasileff, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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