Divorce with children involved is always complex — but especially so when that child has special needs.
Under Texas laws, child support doesn’t automatically end when a special needs child turns 18. It can continue indefinitely. That’s why it is particularly important for divorcing couples to plan ahead for a special needs child during their divorce.
Here are some common matters that need to be discussed:
- Will the child live full-time with one parent? Shared parenting may not be possible with some children, especially if the child doesn’t respond well to changes in location or routine or has specialized medical equipment that needs to be with him or her at all times.
- How much visitation will the non-custodial parent have if the child lives with the other parent? Will it be on a routine basis according to a planned schedule? Is the other parent open to more liberal visitation? What are the expectations and limits?
- What are the plans for the child’s future? If the child outlives the parents, the child will need a legal guardian. Can the parents agree on who will take on that task? Is the person they choose willing to take on the responsibility?
- Your life insurance policies need to be clarified. Both you and your ex should make your child the beneficiary of your life insurance policies.
- A special needs trust should be funded. At some point, your child may end up in assisted living, a group home or even nursing home care. Child support paid to a special needs trust — which can also be set up to receive funds from your 401k after your death — can help keep your child comfortable after you are gone.
Support agreements for children with special needs involve far more than just monthly payments. Experienced legal guidance can help you sort out the best methods to make sure your child is cared for appropriately in the future.