Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. It is, obviously, difficult for both spouses who seek to end their marital union. It is also a time of serious upheaval and emotional uncertainty for minor children from the family. When parents divorce, children often develop issues with socialization and emotional health. Depression, anxiety, and acting out are all common responses to a parental divorce.
When your family includes one or more children with special needs, however, the risks of the divorce to the child may increase. While most children can eventually work through, process, and move on from the emotional fallout of a divorce, the process may be more difficult or even impossible for children with special needs. You and your spouse should work together to minimize the impact of your divorce on your special needs children.
Special needs children thrive in supportive, stable environments
All children benefit from stability, routine, and discipline. Special needs children, however, absolutely need these things to make the most of their lives. Divorce is a very de-stabilizing life event. It can leave children uncertain about relationships with their parents and result in moving to a new home, a new school, or even a completely new city.
All of the changes involved in a divorce can prove incredibly difficult for a child with special needs. Whether your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, or an intellectual disability, you and your spouse need to work together to try to minimize the impact of the divorce and make the lives of the children as stable and “normal” as possible.
Always stay focused on the best interests of your child
Divorce tends to bring out the worst in many people. After all, there is fear, sorrow, and anger all bubbling to the surface. No matter how you may feel about your spouse and your divorce, you need to insulate your children from it. You can acknowledge that you have feelings without venting or complaining to the children.
Instead of trying to get the kids to side with you, remember that they will naturally want to remain close to both parents in this process. Unless there is an issue of abuse or neglect, do your best to help your children maintain a positive and rewarding relationship with your ex throughout and after the divorce.
When addressing issues like child support, asset division, and even spousal support, always keep the needs and care of your child in the forefront of your mind. Don’t make these issues about you and your desire to win in the divorce. You should always try to work toward solutions that protect and uplift your children. When you stay focused on the needs and health of your children, you can find better solutions to the issues that arise in divorce.