Are you at the end of your rope with your spouse? Maybe you are longing to file for divorce but hesitate because the two of you are parents of a child with special needs. Is there any hope for relief from your domestic misery?
When couples who are parents of a special needs child get divorced, they face different hurdles than couples who are parents of non-disabled children do. As a result, these divorces can out of necessity be more complex, although certainly not impossible.
What does that mean for the parents?
One major consequence is that they may need to be a bit more flexible in their co-parenting arrangements. While abled children usually are able to transition from one parent’s home to the other during custody exchanges, a disabled child may not be able to do that at all.
For instance, a child with autism may not be able to comfortably settle in to a routine of three days with dad and four with mom. Rather than set yourselves up for a series of altercations with your autistic child, it might be better to look into an arrangement of bird’s nest parenting where it is the parents who move in and out of the home and the child stays put.
This also might be the best option if you have a child who requires costly medical supplies and special supports and assistive devices for their activities of daily life (ADL), e.g., lifts to get them in and out of bed, wheelchair accessible doorways, etc. It may not be possible or financially feasible to duplicate the equipment that the child needs in both parent’s homes.
Is shared physical custody a good idea?
It can be, but parents must make the best decisions for their special needs children regarding custody and visitation. Divorce is hard enough on adults. It can really do a number on children who are already struggling to cope with physical, mental and emotional challenges. If one parent is designated as the physical custodian of the child, that does not negate the important role their other parent has in their life.
Work together for the best post-divorce outcome
Just because you couldn’t make your marriage work with your spouse doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t have an amicable divorce where the focus remains on the best interests of your child(ren). By working closely with your San Jose family law attorney, you can achieve a workable divorce and be successful co-parents.