Divorce can be hugely difficult for any family to navigate and is doubly so when special needs children are involved. Whereas most children of divorce must be cared for and have expenses shared by both parents until they turn 18, this is not always the case for special needs children. Because these individuals cannot always function as adults by the time they turn 18, they must often be cared for dually for much longer or for the rest of their lives. Here are a few topics that you and your ex should consider carefully as you plan your finances and complete your estate planning.
- First, parents must consider how the child will be financially supported. This is often best handled with the help of a divorce attorney to determine who makes the main income and how much is needed for childcare. Parents may also need to discuss how custody will be shared and who will be the primary caregiver because caregiving for a special needs child is often a job unto itself.
- Second, parents may need to consider legal guardianship once the child turns 18. This could be a joint endeavor if both parents can work together, or one parent only may need to request legal guardianship.
- Third, parents should consider government benefits and how they affect the bank account of the special needs child. If government benefits are assigned to go the same account that child support goes to, the government will most likely notice and stop benefits as they see that the child seems to have plenty of money.
- Finally, parents will need to do careful estate planning for the end of their lives. They may need to consider funding a special needs trust together and may need to choose a new legal guardian together. On the other hand, some parents choose to start and fund special needs trusts separately to keep frustration at bay.
As with most decisions and planning done for special needs individuals, it is best to get a special education professional involved, such as an attorney from Newman, Aaronson, Vanaman. You may also want to involve a divorce attorney and a financial adviser. While this type of planning can be particularly difficult for any family, it can be downright challenging for families with special needs. However, working together amicably can do much to smooth this process.