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What issues may be affected by my child's special needs?

If you're considering a divorce and you have a special needs child, you're right to be concerned about how that may impact the terms of your divorce. In most cases, there are several things that may need to be altered to ensure that the child's best interests are being represented, including the following.

1. The parenting plan. Those with special needs children may need a much longer and much more detailed parenting plan. This is because the general plan used in most situations may not cover all of the issues both the parents and child may have to deal with. In general, the more detailed the plan the better. If you and your ex are not in agreement on the issues or you're not sure what all needs to be included in the parenting plan, talking with your attorney can give you a better idea of your options.

2. Visitation. Special needs children often have difficult adjusting to new situations or changes in routine, so there may need to be some modifications to the usual parenting time schedule. This is particularly true if one parent has been the primary caregiver. There may need to be a plan put in place to help both the child and the other parent adjust gradually before there is prolonged one-on-one time without the primary caregiver.

3. Child support. Many people believe that child support is a cut-and-dried formula and there's nothing they can do about the number provided. However, this isn't really the case. While the courts do use a formula as a guideline for creating child support orders, there are situations that call for modifications. Significant add-on expenses, such as ongoing therapy or medical care, may factor into the child support amount.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce And The Child With Special Needs," Lisa Helfend Meyer, accessed July 18, 2016

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