Going through a divorce when you and your spouse have children is complicated. When one or more of your children has special needs, however, the process becomes infinitely more complicated. There are many things to take into consideration.
Has your spouse chosen to stay home with the children to reduce or eliminate nursing care and child care expenses? Does your child need daily care and monitoring? Are there special medical or schooling expenses associated with the special needs of your child? Will you or your spouse be able to handle caring for your children alone?
If you and your spouse can't agree on custody and asset division, the family courts in Texas will decide for you. If you're wondering how your child's special needs could impact your divorce, there are a number of ways.
How do special needs impact child custody?
Typically, when deciding on custody matters, courts in Texas seek to work in the child's best interest. When a child has special needs, that can change the implications of that term. Most times, the courts seek to find a way to ensure ongoing shared custody or co-parenting arrangements that ensure both parents have positive and healthy relationships with the children.
Typically, this involves traveling between the houses of both parents. That could be too disruptive for the child. In cases that require a lot of medical equipment in the home, it could also be financially unfeasible. In certain cases, the courts may find that a non-custodial parent will visit with the child at the custodial parent's home or limit overnight stays to reduce disruption. The parent with more experience in providing for the child's need may be more likely to receive custody as well.
How do special needs affect asset division?
In cases of conditions that respond poorly to changes to routine or homes that have been modified to meet a child's special needs, the courts may feel inclined to award the house, excepting a payout of equity, to the custodial parent.
This practice helps ensure that the child stays in a healthy, familiar and safe environment. Typically, the home gets refinanced, with the non-custodial parent receiving a "fair and equitable" portion of the equity in exchange for removing his or her name from the deed.
Is nesting or co-habitating a good idea for special needs parents?
If you and your spouse believe you have the space and the ability to continue to live together, nesting after a divorce could be a best-case scenario for your family. Both parents will be present to provide support to the child, and fewer resources will get used to maintain two households. Even if you hope to make this situation work, however, you should have an asset division and custody agreement in place in case it does not work out.