This blog originally appeared on Collaborative Divorce Texas.
Divorce is often a daunting experience for a couple with normal healthy children.
But, divorce can be even more overwhelming when the spouses have a child with special needs.
In over 35 years of divorce and child custody law practice I have witnessed that most parents, including those with disabled children, overwhelmingly ask to have their child’s or children’s interests be put first. They ask me, “How can we best do that?”
Parents, like you, do not have a choice in whether your child is disabled. But, you, as a parent, do have the important choice in deciding which divorce process is most suitable for you and your spouse and for your disabled child.
Choosing litigation, which is generally focused on blame of the other spouse, often further damages the co-parenting relationship, the kind of relationship which is needed to care for and meet the needs of your child. The stress of adversarial litigation often impairs the ability of the parents to focus on their child’s special needs. Frequently, litigation exacerbates the amount of legal fees and costs which deplete funds which could have been better spent on meeting the needs of the child.
What are the benefits of Collaborative Divorce for your special needs child?
- Collaborative Divorce focuses on finding solutions, not placing blame.
- You and your spouse identify your interests, goals, and concerns for your child. Such identification will be your compass which guides you to a resolution which works for your child and for the family you are restructuring in the divorce process.
- Collaborative Divorce allows you and your spouse to be in control. You know more than anyone else about your child’s needs. You are in control of your divorce and your parenting plan … not the lawyers, not the judge.
- Collaborative Divorce is multidisciplinary with a team of professionals to help you. You and your spouse assemble a team of joint neutral professionals in mental health (MHP) and finance (FP) to facilitate communication, develop a parenting plan, and address the economic the needs of your child. The financial professional (FP) can assess the financial needs of the child and help you both decide how to best pay for and share those costs, now and in the future.
- Collaborative Divorce allows you with the assistance of the MHP to create your own parenting plan to meet the unique needs of your child. With your consent, the mental healthcare professional (MHP) can talk with your child’s doctors, therapists, and teachers to help you make joint decisions with the best information available. Gathering information is essential in addressing special needs which range from autism, ADHD, ADD, anxiety disorders and physical and visual impairments to name just a few. The MHP can help you craft a parenting plan which allows you and your spouse, as parents, to share the burden of meeting the needs of your child in each of your periods of possession.
- Collaborative Divorce enables you with the assistance of the FP to develop flexible and workable child support plans and not just focus on statutory child support formulas. You, as the child’s parents, may deviate from court applied formulas to more fairly share the heavy economic burden of your child’s disabilities.
- Collaborative Divorce is efficient and cost effective as compared to litigation. Since joint neutral professionals and consultants are used, you will not have to pay for multiple competing experts as in litigation, which duplicates costs.
If you have a special needs child and are considering divorce, Collaborative Divorce may be the best option. It may provide the best chance for the best outcome for your child. If you need further information on Collaborative Divorce and your special needs child, you may find more information at www.collaborativedivorcetexas.org