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Creating a Parenting Plan for a Child with Special Needs

Posted on in Child Custody

Creating a Parenting Plan for a Child with Special NeedsFiguring out a parenting plan during your divorce is complicated, but there are additional difficulties if one of your children has special needs. Raising a child with special needs may require dedicating additional resources to accommodate their physical and/or mental disabilities. A parenting plan needs to account for these in its allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Children with special needs can be more vulnerable when dealing with the changes that come with their parents divorcing.

Parenting Time

There are several factors that you need to consider when creating a parenting time schedule for your special needs child:

  • If your child has physical disabilities, will both parents have a home that can accommodate them?
  • Are both you and your co-parent capable of caring for your special needs child on your own?
  • How difficult will it be to transport your special needs child between homes?
  • How might your special needs child react to changing homes?

You need to divide your parenting time in a way that is best for your child, which sometimes requires them to spend the majority of their time with one parent. Your marital home may have special equipment that helps with your child’s physical needs, and replicating that in a second home may be expensive. If your co-parent is more experienced with caring for your child’s special needs, you have to learn how to be an independent caregiver if you want a schedule that is close to equal parenting time. However, you still might not be able to dedicate as much time to your child if you have longer work hours than your co-parent.

Child Support

Illinois’ basic child support formula does not account for the additional expenses required in raising a child with special needs, such as:

  • Frequent doctor visits and medical treatment
  • The purchase and maintenance of special equipment
  • Hiring a caregiver if the parents are incapable of or unavailable to fulfill the child’s needs

You can add the healthcare expenses for your special needs child to your total parenting expenses when calculating child support. Raising a special needs child may also indirectly factor in spousal maintenance if one parent does not work full-time in order to care for your child.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

Having a child with special needs changes how you structure your parenting plan. A special needs child often thrives on a consistent schedule and familiarity even more than other children. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can discuss with you what your parenting plan needs to accomplish. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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