Divorce is never easy for anyone. Breaking off what you once thought might be a lifetime commitment can be painfully difficult. The situation can get even more complicated if you have children with special needs. Regardless of how you and your spouse feel about the divorce, it is important to make sure your children are not hurt in the process.
Considering the best interests of your children, it’s prudent for you and your ex-spouse to choose the path of divorce mediation. A knowledgeable, sensitive, and compassionate mediator can help you the find the best solutions when your divorce involves a child with special needs.
Here are three key factors you need to consider if you have children with special needs.
Custody is perhaps the most important factor to be considered in a divorce that involves special needs children. Unlike normal children, children with special needs might not be able to live on their own once they turn 18. What it means is that the custodial parent might have to care for the children for a very long time. Moreover, if your children have cognitive issues, they might not be able to make decisions on their own even after they turn 18.
They might need a guardian who can advocate for their best interests and make decisions for them. Based on this, once your children turn 18, you should consider becoming the legal guardian for them or choose someone who can be their guardian for as long as it is needed. A helpful and skilled child custody mediator can make things easier and guide you and the other co-parent to make mutually beneficial decisions under the circumstances.
Normally, child support payments end when a child turns 18 or moves beyond their parents’ sphere of influence and becomes emancipated. However, it might not be the case with special needs children. Depending on the circumstances, the non-custodial parent might have to pay child support indefinitely.
If you believe that your spouse is likely to get custody of your children, this is an eventuality you must be prepared for. Consult with a trusted and competent child support mediation expert for the best advice.
If you want to make sure that your children are provided for after you are gone, it might be a good idea for you to set up a trust. You can specify how the trust should be managed and how much of the income generated should be spent on your children’s needs.
As part of your estate planning, you can also specify whether the successor trustee (the person who manages your trust after you are gone or if you are incapacitated) has the authority to change the way the trust is managed if there is a material change in the circumstances under which the trust was set up.
Benefits of Mediation in Divorces Involving Special Needs Children
Divorce does not have to be hard on children with special needs. However, a lawyer-driven divorce process can be acrimonious in nature and can make things incredibly hard for your children to cope with. To avoid this potential problem, you can choose the non-adversarial path of divorce mediation.
This can set the right tone for your divorce process and help you sort out even the most sensitive and complex issues in a calm and constructive manner. With the help of an experienced child custody mediator, you and your spouse can discuss things that are important to your future and that of your children and come up with solutions that can benefit all the parties involved.
Divorce Mediation Services You Can Trust
At Advanced Mediation Solutions, we believe that divorce should set the foundation for positive co-parenting, so that parents can work with each other to handle challenges that might arise in the future. This becomes even more important when you have children with special needs.
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