It can be challenging to navigate child custody and visitation schedules in a divorce. For Kentucky couples who have a child with special needs, it can be even more daunting to structure a suitable custody arrangement that is the right fit for their child.
The University of Utah Department of Pediatrics explains that there are many considerations you should take into account to meet the best interests of your special needs child in a divorce.
Does your child struggle with transitions?
When parents have separate households, children may go back and forth between homes during the school year, over the summer and on holidays. Transitions can be tricky for special needs children. You may need to weigh whether longer visits with fewer transitions work better for your child. Because children with special needs may exhibit behavioral challenges with the stress of transitions, parents will want to coordinate with each other to keep routines consistent between households.
What factors might shape decisions about your child’s best interests?
While your child’s ability to cope with transitions is a key factor in structuring custody and visitation, you and your co-parent must also honestly self-assess your abilities to meet your child’s social-emotional and physical needs. There are several factors to consider in putting together a custody arrangement:
- Your child’s wishes, age and gender
- Stability of the home and interactions with siblings and extended family members
- Health care demands, including medications, therapy and counseling
- Your child’s education needs
- Child care requirements, including the need for supervised care or help with basic daily tasks
- Cultural influences and customs
Special needs children have unique demands that may require extra attention as you think about your custody plan.