Daytona Divorce Law

Gerard V. Muriello, Attorney At Law

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Best Interest Of The Child: When Parents Of Special Needs Children Divorce


All children respond differently when their parents end their relationship. They can harbor very deep feelings and be profoundly affected by the experience. Over a million divorces among couples with children occur every year. Trying to navigate the responsibility of reducing trauma for the children of divorce can be a complex and daunting task for parents. It can be that much more complicated when one or more children in the household require special care.

Special Needs Children and Divorce

The words "best interests of the child" can mean a variety of things and they are all taken into consideration when custody determination and modification are being determined. These include, but are not limited to: capacity to understand and respond to the needs of the child, stability of home environment, relationships between child, parent, siblings and other family members, as well as the age, gender and wishes of the child. Where children with special needs are concerned, other factors will include visitation, educational decisions, health and medical requirements, including various therapies, and social and recreational activities.

Often the parents will disagree about which direction care should go in, or be in denial about care needs and even the condition itself. This can add even more anxiety to an already stressful situation. It's important to remember that primary concern is to cause as little upheaval in the life of the children as is possible. Consider the special requirements needed for visitation or shared custody; will moving from home to home affect schooling, holidays or summer breaks? Will disruption of daily routine cause undue stress? This can often be the case for children living with autism, for whom consistency of daily routine can be crucial. Parents must strive to work together even more where a child with special needs is concerned. It might be best to work with third party professionals that can bring neutrality and objectivity to the table in the interest of the child.

Be aware that for some children, special accommodations may need to be made that might not be the case for children without disabilities. Health care, education and supervision are all areas that may call for greater commitments and sacrifices to ensure that children don't pay the price when their parents decide it's time to go their separate ways.

Watch this space for more useful information on how to make divorce process less damaging to the children caught in the middle.

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