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4 points to consider in a special needs custody case

Going through a child custody case when you have a special needs child is difficult. You have to think about normal child custody matters, but you also have to think about how you can still provide for and care for your child in ways that still keep the daily needs in focus. When you are facing a child custody battle that involves a special needs child, be sure to think about these four points.

Traditional arrangements might not work

Many parents rely on a set schedule to determine when the child should be with each parent, but set schedules aren't likely going to work with a special needs child for several reasons. One reason is that the child might not be able to handle the constant upheaval associated with going back and forth. Another reason is that medical appointments and other needs of the child might not allow for the schedule to be followed.

In some cases, it might be best for the parents to let the child stay at one home while the parents switch who spends time with the child there. This could be the case if the child has a considerable amount of equipment that is required for survival, safe sleep and other aspects of life.

Child support needs are complicated

The need to deviate from traditional arrangements can also apply to child support payments because of the increased cost associated with raising a special needs child. This support doesn't necessarily end just because the child becomes an adult, so this must be considered. Another factor that has to be considered in special needs cases that isn't present in other child custody cases is the effect that caring for the child has on the custodial parent's income since caring for the child and coordinating the child's appointments are likely a full-time job.

Transportation must be considered

Getting a special needs child around sometimes requires special equipment. It is unlikely that both parents will have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, so the parent who has the child most of the time will need to have the vehicle that can transport the child. The child custody agreement will likely need to address the transportation issue. This should include taking the child to necessary appointments no matter which parent is supposed to have him or her on the day of the appointment.

Decision-making powers are important

Parents of special needs children often have to make difficult decisions. The decision-making power for every aspect of the child's life needs should be spelled out clearly in the custody agreement. This includes which parent will make decisions about the child's health care, education, and other vital areas of life. It should also include information about medical decisions that are being made in an emergency situation. Could one parent make the decision alone in an emergency or would an attempt to contact the other parent have to be made before the decision can be made?

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