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How families of special-needs kids can handle divorce

It's a statistic that is often quoted throughout the family law realm: About four out of every five couple with an autistic child will divorce after the diagnosis. If that shocking number seems unrealistic to you, good job; experts in the field say that estimate is completely misguided. In fact, couples in Colorado and other locations have about the same divorce rate whether or not they have an autistic child. That does not mean that divorce with a special-needs child is sure to go smoothly, however. These families do have some specific challenges that can affect virtually every aspect of the legal proceeding, from child custody to property division and other considerations.

The most important step to accommodate your autistic child during a divorce is to involve his or her therapist and medical professionals. Family therapists can work together with attorneys to help develop the ideal child custody and visitation plan for the family of a special-needs child. It is important to consult experts before making any big decisions, largely because autistic kids can be vulnerable to additional stress during change. They may also show signs of separation anxiety and other concerns.

With regards to child support, it is critical to ensure that your autistic child receives the ongoing health care support necessary to maintain a lifetime of wellness. Youngsters need medical treatment, but they also may have additional educational costs, along with expenses for housing, clothing and transportation. Parents should work to create a realistic financial picture so a fair amount of child support can be allocated.

One helpful tool for the special-needs family is known as a "special needs trust." This financial tool can help families set aside specific assets to prepare for a child's future expenses. A Colorado attorney can provide additional information about drafting a special needs trust during your child custody and divorce negotiations.

Source: The Huffington Post, "When Parents of a Child With Autism Divorce: Separating Myth From Reality" Bari Zell Weinberger, Apr. 07, 2014

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