Divorce and Special Needs Children in Texas Revisited

Divorces are difficult on all members of the family no matter the circumstances. However, if a child has a disability of some sort this can lead to additional problems that need to be solved by the divorcing spouses.

The needs of these children can extend well beyond the age of eighteen or their graduation from high school. To show that a child requires support beyond the age of eighteen or graduation from high school, the parent seeking that support must show how and why that support is necessary.

Texas Family Code – Child Support and Special Needs Children

Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code is the law in our State that deals in this subject. At a minimum, it must be shown that the child cannot expect to support him or herself when the typical child support would cease for most kids.

Disabilities that affect a person’s ability to:

  1. Move
  2. speak or
  3. function would qualify as well as those that
  4. hinder a person’s ability to problem solve or make judgments on a day to day basis.

Will Child Support Impact Social Security or Disability Claims?

The support payments received can impact whether or not a child may also receive social security disability benefits from the Federal government.

The ability for the parent receiving this income to set up a trust to shelter the money and allow the child to receive these benefits is crucial.

An attorney who specializes in these types of claims should also be consulted when deciding how to proceed.

Parents can Agree or the Court Will Decide

Divorces can also bring about additional frustrations for parents of a special needs child.

While the vast majority of parents would want only what is best for their child, it can be that some parents want to utilize the divorce process to as a means to prove their parenting superiority over the other parent in order to garner:

  1. additional time
  2. rights or even
  3. support from the other parent.

If the parties cannot agree outside of Court to how the above issues will be divided up between them, a courtroom experience can turn into a contest between the parents to show a judge who spent the most time with the child, you took the child to more doctor’s appointments, etc.

Ultimately the parties will be relying upon a judge who, although well meaning, will have limited time and opportunity to truly discern what is in the best interests of a child who needs to be cared for in many ways more-so than other children in similar situations.

Consider the Impact of the Divorce on the Child

The child him or herself will also be affected by the divorce. Although their capacity for understanding many of the issues at hand may be diminished to some extent, it is possible for the child to feel like it is their fault for the break-up of the marriage and at the very least the child can perceive that they do not see both parents with the usual frequency.

For a child that thrives on a set schedule, a divorce will throw off the rhythm of their life to some degree in many situations.

When Mom and Dad cannot agree to a visitation schedule or prolong a divorce for any reason this further exacerbates the tenuous situation for a child with special needs.

Try to Provide Stability for the Child

Parents must above all structure the time that each will spend with the special needs child that strikes a balance between flexibility based on possible changes in the child’s needs and an order that is enforceable by a Court in the even that one party violates that order.

Possession and Access

Whereas in the “typical” divorce, the parents agree upon a set visitation schedule that could very well govern possession, access and visitation for a decade or more without need for change, the parents of a special needs child can find themselves needing to vary their schedules on:

  1. a year to year or
  2. even month to month basis in order to take into consideration the changing needs of their child.

While no Court order is perfect, it is crucial that the parties be able to come to an agreement on these issues outside of court.

If parents are unable to agree together, a Court will be asked to play tie breaker.

Judges are not equipped with sufficient time to learn the issues as thoroughly as the parties themselves and are left in the unenviable situation of making a decision that can have long ranging impact on a family without the sort of information or context that is desirable to do so.

Rights and Duties

Additionally, determining which parent has particular rights and duties to their special needs child is incredibly important as well. +

Special needs children, whether they have emotional or physical issues, will invariably attend treatment sessions of varying sorts with greater regularity than will other children.

When parents do not agree on a particular course of treatment it can make a child’s life even more difficult.

A court will do its best to make a decision based on the best interests of the child on these rights and duties if the parents cannot agreement, but again, the ability of the parents to come to an agreement on a parenting plan that best suits their child is the most advisable course of action.

Consider the Best Interest of the Child

When parents’ divorce and have a special needs child, honest introspection by both parents is necessary to come up with a plan that best suits their child.

As previously stated, the parents themselves know what is best for their child much more than a judge does. If the parents can honestly look at themselves and decide which one of them is in the best position to care for their child’s daily needs and assist the child’s caregivers with a treatment plan, that will go a long way towards determining how contentious and how lengthy a divorce case can get.

It isn’t a matter of competition between the parents. It’s a matter of objectively determining what their child needs to thrive and how best to allocate time/rights/duties between themselves to best ensure the child reaches their maximum potential.

The Houston divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand the issues facing parents with special needs children and will act as both advocate and empathetic representative of any client who finds themselves in this sort of situation. Please contact our office today to learn more about the services and level of expertise that we may offer to you.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
  2. Special Needs Children and Divorce in Texas
  3. Can I get Child Support for my Adult Child in Texas?
  4. Know How Children's Issues are Handled When Preparing for Your Texas Divorce
  5. 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
  6. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  7. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  8. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  9. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  10. Texas Child Support Appeals

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with a Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyer in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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