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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can be painful and confusing for any child, but most of them do eventually adjust. In contrast, children with special needs sometimes struggle to comprehend the reason why their family is fracturing. Worse yet, all the changes in their lives may cause them to regress or suffer from mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Thankfully, parents can help ease the transition for their special needs children by carefully protecting their interests. 

Start with Communication 

When divorcing with a special needs child, communication is critical - and not just with your child. You also need to communicate with your spouse in a healthy, non-combative way. It is also important for you to effectively communicate with your attorney so that they can help you in drafting a parenting plan to suit your child’s specific needs. 

Implement Change Slowly (and Change as Little as Possible) 

Change can be difficult for children with special needs, and depending on the situation, it can lead to regression and other issues. Slow and gradual change can reduce the risk. It may also be possible to eliminate some changes. For example, parents might want to consider bird nesting - or, at the very least, keeping the child in the same home - until they have adjusted to the first set of major changes in their lives. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysIt takes a great deal of money to raise a child, especially one with special needs. There are often added expenses for medical treatment, therapies, and perhaps even therapeutic or medical equipment. Thankfully, when parents are separated or divorced, these added expenses can be factored into an order for child support. Learn more, including how a seasoned family law attorney can improve the outcome of your case, in the following sections. 

How Child Support is Calculated in Illinois 

Illinois uses what is known as the “income shares” model to determine the amount of support a parent owes. The process starts with an economic table, supplied by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, to determine the cost of raising the child. 

That amount is then compared to the net income of each parent to determine what their obligation of support should be. The closer the receiving parent’s income is to the obligated paying parent, the less the support will generally be. The goal is to try and balance out the cost and ensure that neither parent is overly burdened by the cost of supporting the child. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersAny child can struggle with the divorce of their parents, but children with special needs are often more vulnerable to the changes and stress that often accompany the divorce process. As such, divorcing parents with special needs children are encouraged to go the extra mile to help their child cope. The following can help you learn some strategies to use with your child, and it can help you discover how an experienced divorce lawyer may be able to help.

Discussing the Divorce with Your Child

Divorce is about the parents, and their need to separate. However, children are still greatly impacted by divorce, which is why parents are encouraged to speak to their children before the process starts. Of course, talking to a special needs child is going to be different than talking to a child without special needs.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, long term supportParents who have a disabled or special needs child understand the complexity of ensuring adequate care for their child. A divorce adds to the complexity of this issue both financially and emotionally. Whenever possible, divorcing parents should seek to develop a parenting plan and come to an agreement on long-term care for their special needs child.

Generally, child support is calculated using a formula. The court uses the net income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children supported to determine the total amount of support. In most cases, child support terminates when a child is 18. However, when a child is disabled and has special needs that require long-term care, then the court may extend child support. This is particularly true if a child has a severe disability. In these extreme cases, it is possible that the court may order child support to extend for the child’s entire life. 

Court May Order Lifelong Child Support

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