In most cases, child custody and visitation get split equally between parents in a divorce to preserve the parental relationships with the child. Although this is the standard expectation, certain situations call for a different approach. If you have children with special needs, there are other considerations that apply in a custody determination.
Consider these elements as you approach the custody hearing for your special needs children.
What accommodations do the children need?
Special needs children often need a variety of accommodations depending on the nature of their disability or diagnosis. For example, children on the autism spectrum may need full-time care, secure living environments and additional support. Children in wheelchairs need accessible living, including wider hallways and doors as well as ramps and other navigational support.
Are both parents capable of providing those accommodations?
If the marital home is already modified to suit the children’s needs but one parent has since moved out, ensure that both homes are safe and accessible for the children. This includes wheelchair access if necessary and security doors for children who need extra protection.
If one parent is unable to meet those needs, address those concerns in court. Custody arrangements and visitation schedules must account for the safety of the child, and that includes the living arrangements and ability to meet special needs.
Special needs children require additional considerations with custody and visitation orders. Ensure that both homes are safe or adapt the visitation so that it happens in your child’s supportive, safe living environment.