Special Needs Considerations in Divorce

The First Step is to Not Overlook Special Needs Considerations in Divorce or Post-Decree Issues.

The number of children with disabilities is significant. The prevalence of autism in children is now 1 in 59.

There is conflicting evidence that having a child with a disability increases the likelihood of divorce. What is known is that having a child with special needs complicates the divorce process and requires careful consideration of many factors in counseling and representing clients.

For many parents contemplating divorce, the first consideration when one or more of the children have a disability is how and whether they will manage the complications of parenting and supporting a special needs child. At the initial client interview, when there are children (including older children) one of the initial questions I ask is whether any of the children have special education issues or have been diagnosed with a disability. If the answer is yes, then I use a comprehensive checklist to assist me in getting a thorough understanding of the child’s needs in the context of this family. It is important to ask detailed questions about the nature of the disability. It is also a good idea to request documents (e.g. evaluations, school records, Individual Education Plans (IEP)) that provide detailed information regarding the child’s disability.

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