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Attorney Carrie Wilcox

Custody and the child with special needs: What to consider

| Jun 23, 2021 | Child Custody

Co-parenting after divorce generally isn’t easy for any mom or dad. No parent wants to be away from their child for an extended period, after all. 

There are, however, unique challenges that co-parents of special needs children face — including when they try to sort out a custody and visitation schedule after a divorce.

Which factors affect custodial arrangements for special needs children?

A special needs child requires a heightened level of care and attention. This might factor into the arrangement for custodial time based upon the availability and resources a parent may have to care for their child. It isn’t unusual for one parent to be the primary caregiver and have sole physical custody for this reason alone.

Special needs children may need specialized medical equipment, prescription medications, supplemental nutrition and more frequent trips to the doctors than other kids. They may also need specialized transportation to get to the hospital or school. It may be necessary to factor in how close a parent’s home is to the child’s healthcare providers and school and whether their home has the necessary medical equipment to keep them safe.

If the child does need specialized equipment, it may be cost-prohibitive to have two sets of it. Thus, as the parents, you may need to arrange to have the equipment transported back and forth between each home — or work out an agreement where the non-custodial parent visits the child in the custodial parent’s home.

Finally, a child with special needs may need more structure and routine than usual, so that has to be factored into any custody or visitation schedule. What that means, exactly, can be as unique as the child involved.

Coordinating a custody schedule for your special needs child

There are many factors to consider that are not typical in a traditional child custody decree if you’re a parent with a special needs child. Experienced legal guidance can help you navigate the various challenges and options to help make the smoothest transition possible.