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Unique Considerations when Parents of Special Needs Children Divorce

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Children can be one of life’s greatest blessings, but they can also be a source of great challenge. Often, the stress of having children can exert pressure on a marriage, even threatening its success. This is especially true of children who have developmental or physical special needs: an incredible source of love and joy to parents, while also a source of strain that the marriage may be unable to withstand. If you are considering divorce as the parent of a special needs child, there are issues unique to those circumstances which the average divorcing couple won’t face. Read on to learn more about considerations in a Kentucky divorce of parents of special needs children.

Child support may deviate from guidelines

Kentucky uses thorough guidelines to determine the amount of child support that the paying spouse owes to the parent holding physical custody, but allows for deviations from these guidelines when the child has extraordinary medical, educational, or special needs. If you will be the parent holding physical custody, speak with your attorney or accountant about creating a budget to determine how much you should request that the court award you in child support. You will likely need to support this request with documentation of the costs of your child’s care.

Child support payments should also take into account any government benefits to which the child may be entitled. It is important to account for these benefits when requesting child support, to ensure that the amount of any support received does not disqualify the child from receiving public benefits. 

While child support typically ends when the child reaches the age of majority, Kentucky courts will require that child support payments continue into adulthood for children unable to earn enough to cover their complete living expenses.

Think about long-term care issues

While most parents can assume that their children will eventually become independent, parents of special-needs children may need to make plans for their child’s care into adulthood, such as who may serve as a guardian for your child should you or your spouse pass away, and whether the child will live with a parent for their lifetime, or live in alternate housing. When dividing your marital assets, be sure that you discuss your child’s long-term care with your spouse, and how you might begin to plan for the costs through a special needs trust or savings account.

If you are facing a Kentucky divorce and need legal counsel you can trust to represent you, contact the Louisville family law attorneys at John Ruby & Associates for a consultation, at 502-895-2626.