Deciding how to handle child custody decisions is difficult under the best of circumstances. When you have a child who has special needs, the complexities are often increased. Even though you are going through a divorce, you can’t forget about the unique needs of your child.
As you work with your ex to determine what child custody will look like in your case, you might come to the realization that co-parenting is the ideal solution. One thing to remember is that you can’t shoehorn your case into a traditional arrangement.
More flexibility is required
Most co-parenting arrangements improve greatly when the parents are flexible. The need to be even more flexible is necessary when the child has special needs. This is because you and your ex might have to shuffle your schedules frequently based on what the child needs at the time. In some cases, it might be best to avoid planning anything too far in advance just in case something happens and the child needs more extensive care than usual.
You also need to think about what will happen if the other parent needs some extra help when they have the child. This might not happen often, but it can benefit the child if you and your ex come up with a plan for what will happen in these cases.
Equipment and staffing needs must be considered
Sometimes, children who have special needs require specific equipment to remain safe and healthy. Some have nurses and other professionals who help care for them. When you and the other parent don’t live in the same home, you have to make arrangements accordingly. Both homes will need to have the necessary equipment unless you plan to move the equipment back and forth. An alternative option is to have the child live in one home while the parents rotate in and out of that home. This is known as bird’s nest co-parenting.
You might have to make more complicated decisions than other parents. Deciding who will make which decisions can reduce stress. Neither parent should be responsible for every single decision because this will likely become mentally challenging. Parents should split decision-making powers according to their strengths or both parents should make all the decisions together.
You also need to make plans for what will happen in an emergency. For example, if your ex has your child and there is a medical crisis, they should be permitted to make urgent decisions in your stead even if you’re the parent who is responsible for medical decisions. All of this should be outlined in the child custody agreement.