Disabled Children and Divorce

A common misunderstanding about disabled children and divorce is that divorce rate of couples with a disabled child are higher than of those with normal children. From testimonies of broken families we learn that a disabled child can be the root cause of a divorce. But, the other way around happens too: other parents are brought together by their disabled child.

The subject of Disabled Children and Divorce requires special attention. Divorcing parents with disabled children have to take care of protective arrangements and of the financial future.

Your disabled child can get free special education and additional services. To qualify, a child evaluation must be done by the school. Read more in Child Evaluation

Disabled children are entitled to state benefits once they reach the age of 18. However, if the child receives child support benefits from one or both of their parents, the amount of the state benefits will be reduced accordingly. By taking the rights measures, the disabled child can benefit financially once they reach the age of 18.

Protective arrangements are needed when the disabled child turns 18, but is incapable to make it's own decisions.

Providing a good financial future

Parents of a disabled child that file for divorce have to address the issue of child support.

In case of Disabled Children and Divorce, financial arangements must be made for the children for property distribution, alimony, and child support.  In most of the cases, the non-custodial parent will contribute with regular payments to the other parent. With these resources, the custodial parent will provide the necessities, education, health care and support to the healthy children and the disabled children. For the normal children, the child support may stop. For the disabled child, the judge can rule that the child support by both parents must continue for the rest of the life ot the child.

Every disabled child is entitled to SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is a basic monthly income. The monthly amount is different in each state. But when the disabled child receives child support from his parents, the amount of SSI is reduced accordingly. If the SSI is negated completely, the disabled child will loose it&squo;s medical benefits rights. Especially for disabled children who often need a lot of medical support, this is very sad for them.

Divorcing parents of a disabled child should involve an attorney specialized in estate planning and with experience with disabled children. He or she will know how the child can keep all the benefits.

The estate planning attorney will bring up the possibility to set up a trust fund for special needs in the name of the disabled child. The trust fund will supply extra income to the disabled child starting at the age of 18. This way, the disabled child is entitled to receive the benefits from the government. Of course, the divorced parents should set up the fund as soon as possible after the divorce.

For an inheritance, the same applies. If the divorced child receives an inheritance directly, he or she will very probably loose the state benefits. Instead, the inheritance can be put into the special needs trust.

In a special needs trust, there is a beneficiary (the diabled child) and a trusted fund manager, for example a trusted family member. The fund manager invests the assets and ensures periodic payments to  the disabled child. Setting up a trust must and running it must comply with tight requirements from the government and should not be taken lightly. But when it is done properly, the disabled child will benefit from it for the rest of it's life. Divorced parents can make of the same trust to put assets in for the benefit of their disabled child.

Protective arrangements

Until the age of 18, child custody and visitation will be laid out in the divorce decree. Once 18, everyone is considered emancipated, no matter if he or she is disabled or not. For some disabled children and divorce, an arrangement to protect them needs to be created because they cannot (completely) take care of themselves. For children that remain completely dependent, a guardianship needs to be established. From a legal point of view, both parents have equal rights to act as a guardian. Divorced parents should cooperate and aim for a productive agreement for the benefit of the disabled child.

If the child is not completely incapable, he or she could issue a living will and a power of attorney.

To ensure a good and solid financial future for disabled children and divorce, parents should involve a specialised attorney. The attorney knows the ways how to (set up a special needs trust) and will provide the necessary help.

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