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Tips for Co-Parenting a Special Needs Child After a Divorce

 Posted on April 22,2020 in Child Custody & Allocation of Parental Responsibility

Kane County family law attorneysUnfortunately, not every marriage ends happily ever after as they do in the fairytales. In some cases, spouses simply grow apart or cannot reconcile due to infidelity or an addiction problem. When a couple has a child with a physical or mental disability, it can also put a significant strain on their relationship. In these family situations, the decision to divorce can be especially difficult. The thought of caring for a special needs child as a single parent can be overwhelming. On top of the usual issues that need to be resolved, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and the division of property or assets, there can be a lot of uncertainty about caring for your child as a divorced parent.   

Disabilities Can Take Different Forms 

A special needs child is a minor who has been diagnosed with a condition that requires attention and certain assistance that other children do not. The state may declare this status for the purpose of offering benefits for the child’s well-being and growth. Some of these conditions may result in occupational or physical therapy, in addition to emotional or behavioral support. In some cases, a child may be confined to a wheelchair or need a seeing-eye dog

The following disabilities are typically placed in specific categories: 

  • Physical: Muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic asthma, cerebral palsy (CP), epilepsy
  • Developmental: Down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, processing disorders
  • Behavioral/Emotional: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, defiant disorder
  • Sensory Impairment: Blindness, deafness

Strategies for Coping With Transition

Divorce can be disruptive to anyone, but for children with special needs, the emotions can be magnified. The transition can be extremely challenging for kids with different cognitive disorders, so it is important to be patient and give your child time to adjust. Encourage your child by reinforcing that you both still love him or her even though you are splitting up as a couple. It may be hard for them to understand based on their mental capabilities, but cooperating with your ex and working as a team will help your child during this period

When determining parenting time, both parents must carefully consider if their child is capable of going back and forth between households on a weekly basis or if he or she will do better remaining at one home for longer spans of time. There are different options for parenting time so it is important to create a schedule that works best for your child’s unique needs.

Here are a few ways to co-parent that can alleviate the stress for your child after you get divorced:

  • Maintain a calendar at each house with your child’s schedule of daily activities.
  • Stay connected through electronic communication when apart.
  • Keep your child’s adaptive equipment at each house.
  • Attend therapy or counseling sessions together or alternate appointments.
  • Find a support system (family members, friends, clergy).

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Even under the best of circumstances, a divorce can be challenging. There are many decisions to make, and these determinations are compounded when you have a child with special needs. If you have questions or concerns about your impending divorce and how it will impact your child, it is critical to seek legal representation to protect your rights. The law firm of Weiler & Associates, Inc. has handled all types of divorce cases, from amicable to contested. Our skilled and compassionate St. Charles parenting plan lawyers will guide you through the proceedings so you feel confident in your and your child’s future. Call us today at 630-331-9110 to schedule a private consultation


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