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3 custody concerns when parents share a child with special needs

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2024 | Child Custody |

The needs of every child are different. Some children have medical or developmental challenges that require more attention and consideration from their parents. An autistic child, for example, may need special support services at school and certain unique supports at home.

When parents who share children with special needs decide to divorce, the same basic laws apply. However, there are unique issues that they may need to address to effectively share custody.

Keeping daily life predictable

All children thrive on routine and structure. For children with special needs, an understanding of social rules and household expectations helps them stay safe. Moving children to new locations and changing their daily schedules can lead to developmental setbacks and emotional outbursts if a child has special needs. Parents may need to approach shared parental responsibilities very carefully to minimize the disruption to the child’s schedule and daily life.

Ensuring adequate medical and social support

Divorce tends to cause distress in children of all ages. Children with special needs may have a particularly difficult time understanding their reactions to the situation or controlling their behavior. Parents often need to communicate with educational professionals and mental health workers who support their children with special needs. Parents may also have to have clear rules in place to ensure there is no disruption in a child’s medical treatments and insurance coverage. Those considerations are important for any minors but can be critical for a child with special needs.

Coordinating between households

Whether a child relies on special equipment or needs to take prescription medication, there can be a lot that parents have to share and communicate about in a shared custody scenario. The burden of remembering medication or transporting mobility assistance devices should never fall to the child. The parents typically need to have a plan in place to ensure the child has access to necessary resources at both houses. Parents may also need to have communication rules in place so that they can share information about medical appointments and concerns related to their child.

The more that parents plan ahead of time, the easier it is for them to smooth the transition from sharing a household to co-parenting a child with special needs. A cooperative approach to shared custody can help parents effectively support a child with special needs. Careful planning can go a long way toward the reduction of disputes between parents and challenging disruptions for the child.

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