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Custody of a special-needs child: things to know

Anybody who has gone through the divorce process realizes that it's both challenging and confusing at times. This is even more so the case when you have at least one child with your spouse.

Taking this one step further, raising a child with special needs, especially after divorce, is easier said than done. This calls for a variety of additional considerations, all of which are meant to ensure the child's well-being.

Generally speaking, determining custody of a special-needs child will bring forth conversations about custody itself, visitation and, of course, child support.

Since you're dealing with a special-needs child, everything about the parenting plan and custody order is unique. This is why the process needs to be micromanaged from start to finish, as this is the only way to ensure that the best interests of the child are met.

Classifying a special-needs child

As a parent of a child with special needs, you do whatever it takes to provide the care he or she needs. Common categories of special needs include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Life-threatening medical conditions
  • Asperger's syndrome
  • Autism
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and chronic depression

The state of Texas has laws in place to ensure that the best interest of the child is always considered above everything else. The court must be made aware of any special needs a child may have and will request additional information, such as a professional diagnosis. Along with this, it will want to learn how both parents feel about the ailment, including their views on treatment.

From a child custody perspective, the court will review the case as a whole to determine if one parent is better suited to deal with the child's special needs. For example, one parent may have a flexible work schedule, which allows him or her to better handle the child's day-to-day requirements.

When it comes to custody of a special-needs child, you can't take anything for granted. You need to know what the court will look at and how to guarantee an arrangement that's best for your child.

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