Richardson child custody attorneys at Warren & Migliaccio can help if you’re going through a child custody dispute. Your need for legal guidance may be even greater if your child has special needs. Because of the various arrangements and care special needs children require, there are often many considerations in special needs child custody cases.
Special Needs Children and the Law
So what exactly does ‘special needs’ mean? This is a broad category that could include a number of developmental issues. Learning disabilities and emotional problems may be included, for instance. A physician may be involved in some cases; you may ask your attorney about the issue as well.
Special needs children may require more assistance as far as health, education, and daily assistance. As a result, some of the child custody conditions pertaining to children who are not disabled may not apply; additional or different considerations may be necessary for a special needs child custody case.
Determining Who Receives Custody
When determining who receives custody, it’s important to think of the child first. Special needs children often rely on consistency and even the slightest change in routine could be problematic. The first step to determining the best parent for primary custody is to research the child’s needs.
It’s possible to do this in several ways:
- discuss the situation with the child if he or she can handle and understand the issues to gauge his or her feelings;
- ask the child’s doctor about any medical needs the child has or will have;
- ask the child’s therapist about any emotional issues he or she feels are relevant; and
- consult the child’s teachers regarding anything the child requires at home to support his or her education.
To protect the wellbeing and health of a special needs child, consider the following when determining who receives primary custody.
- Parental health/fitness – Is one parent physically or mentally unhealthy, or is one parent more capable of providing a good environment for the child?
- Emotional bonds – Is the child’s bond stronger with one parent compared to the other?
- Resources & time – Which parent has better access to necessary resources and/or the time to care for the child?
- Behavior management – Which parent is more capable of managing the child appropriately in regard to behavioral issues?
- Medical/health management – Which parent is more adept or capable of handling the special medical or health needs of the child?
Visitation and Parenting
Some special needs children may require specific equipment and/or may benefit from consistency in their environment. Therefore, traveling to visit the non-custodial parent may be difficult or even impossible. Arrangements may be necessary so that the non-custodial parent may visit the child’s home (i.e. the custodial parent’s home) or another convenient location.
Depending on the visitation arrangement, the child may be exposed to different styles of parenting. A parenting plan may be helpful in promoting consistency in the child’s daily routine and it can allow both parents to have a fair say in how the child is brought up.
The parenting plan can include information about:
- the child’s education;
- medical management; and
- how the child may shift from childhood to adulthood when the time comes.
Making Changes to Existing Child Custody
At times, some parents find that their child’s needs have changed. The child custody conditions used to create the original agreement may no longer be the best fit for the child. In this case, it may be necessary to contact an attorney about the best route to compromise on changes that are in the best interests of the child. By hiring a child custody lawyer, you will ensure that any changes made are both legal and fair.
Contact a Richardson Child Custody Attorney
Caring for a child with special needs can be emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting, so placing the child with the best parent to care for the child is essential. To help you defend your ability to care for your special needs child, contact Warren & Migliaccio. Call today to schedule a consultation with a Richardson child custody attorney – 888-584-9614.