It is a myth that having a child with special needs leads to divorce. While it can be stressful for both parents and the marriage, that stress rarely contributes to or leads to a divorce.

Even so, parents of children with special needs can still face a risk for divorce. In these cases, parents must ensure that they take time to create a comprehensive parenting plan.

Healthcare needs and expenses will require careful consideration

Children with special needs often require specific medical care or treatments, including:

  • Therapies, including speech, physical or behavioral;
  • Medication plans and assistive equipment, such as a wheelchair; and
  • Additional treatments or surgeries.

Health insurance can cover a significant amount of these expenses. However, after dividing assets and finances – and in some cases health insurance – it can be difficult to pay for these services.

That is why Illinois parents must plan in advance for how they will continue to manage these expenses and pay for the services their child needs.

In addition to the cost of this care, parents will also have to plan for how they will make decisions about their child’s healthcare needs. Will they approach these decisions together? How will they handle decisions in emergencies? Parents must create a decision-making strategy they agree on.

Determine how to approach visitation

Unfortunately, shared parenting may not work as well with children with special needs. For example:

  • When children have extensive equipment they need at home, such as feeding tubes and wheelchairs, it can be difficult to transfer everything back and forth in a custody arrangement. And having doubles of everything at each household can be expensive.
  • Children with autism might struggle under the circumstances of transitioning between each parent’s house, especially if they depend on a routine.

Arranging visitation time, parenting time and dividing parenting responsibilities might be difficult in these cases, so Illinois parents must take great care to find an arrangement that works best for their family.

Cooperation and flexibility are critical

It can be difficult to interact with an ex-spouse, even if both spouses agreed to get a divorce.

However, parents of a child with special needs must put their child’s needs first. This often requires parents to continue collaborating closely and provide their children with the care they need, even during the stressful time during and after a divorce.