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Navigating divorce with a special needs child

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Divorce

According to studies, more than 20% of American homes have at least one child with a long-term illness or a special need. Other studies report that the divorce rate among parents of children with special needs is a staggering 87%. With that in mind, how should Tennessee parents of special needs children navigate their divorce?

Special considerations for your parenting plan

Ideally, you and your child’s other parent can sit down and come to an agreement about how you’re going to co-parent following your divorce. Creating a written parenting plan allows you to determine which parent is responsible for which aspects of the child’s care.

When making a parenting plan for your special needs child, be sure to consider his or her unique needs. This includes making provisions for basic healthcare, specialized healthcare, education and more.

Avoiding the parentification of other children

When you and your ex were together, you both had someone there to help you address your child’s special needs. Now that you’re divorced, each of you must face the daunting task of dealing with those needs individually.

It’s common for children who don’t have special needs to suffer from parentification. This term refers to a sibling transitioning into a parental role with one or more of their siblings. Commit to avoiding the parentification of any of your other children as it’s simply not fair to them.

Remain flexible

Whether you create a custody agreement on your own or a judge determines the way that you and your ex must share custody, remain flexible when dealing with your special needs child. Depending on his or her issues, your child may need a bit of extra time with either you or your ex from time to time. Accommodate his or her needs, even if it means that all your children don’t have the same visitation schedule.

Your special needs child will likely need care long after their 18th birthday. Creating a culture of cooperation with your ex at the beginning of your divorce can set the tone for the rest of your child’s life.

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