M&L points out that when parents with special needs divorce, the usual challenges – custody, visitation, child support – are amplified.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) October 02, 2013
M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is a company that is committed to helping families with special needs plan – financially and otherwise - for the hurdles and milestones that accompany daily life. As one of life’s hurdles include divorce – more than half of all marriages in US fall prey – M&L Special Needs Planning has published a discussion on divorce and planning for children with special needs on their weekly blog. M&L staff feel that it is of the utmost importance to plan for the child with special needs before, during, and after the divorce to ensure that he or she is as unaffected as possible by the change in family dynamics.
M&L points out that when parents with special needs divorce, the usual challenges – custody, visitation, child support – are amplified. Typical custody and child support agreements may not suit the needs of your family, and as such additional time, compromise, and flexibility may be required to reach an agreement that suits all parties. Through experience and research, M&L has compiled a list of considerations for families with special needs to consider before and after beginning divorce proceedings.
Most typical custody and visitation schedules include a parent who has primary custody, and a parent who has evening, weekend, over night and/or vacation visitation – this may not suit the needs of your child. I.e. how will the child react to the change in environment? Will the child be negatively impacted by the instability that comes with visitation? How will medical appointments, therapy, tutoring, etc. be affected by the new schedule? Does your child have medical equipment that needs to accompany him or her on visitation? It is important to consider these issues, and to ensure that all attorneys are familiar with the needs of your child before entering into a custody agreement.
The financial implications of divorce for families with special needs are incredibly important – remember, until the child with a disability is 18, the amount of child support that a parent pays for that child can be unlimited. Once a person turns 18, special needs or not, legally he/she becomes an adult. For a child with special needs who is 18, child support now is considered “unearned income” when taking into consideration the government benefit of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If the child support is more than $730 per month for 2013, the young adult with a disability will be found ineligible for government benefits of SSI due to too much unearned income.
One way to continue to provide financial support for a child with special needs while continuing to protect his or her eligibility for government benefits is to establish a special needs trust. At the age of 18, the child support can be redirected into this special needs trust.
A special needs trust is the only legal way for an individual to have the benefit of unlimited extra income, without losing government benefits. It is designed to supplement, not supplant, government benefits. If written correctly, it will provide financial assistance for any care above and beyond what the government provides. It is absolutely imperative that the trust be written correctly, therefore parents must work with an attorney who understands and has experience working with families with special needs.
Divorce and Special Needs Checklist
As you prepare for divorce, M&L emphasizes the need to plan for your children with special needs. The following checklist should help you to consider and plan for all the issues that may arise during or after the divorce – planning and preparation can help a child with special needs transition smoothly.
- Plan for finances before and after divorce. Investigate special needs trusts for the child after the age of 18.
- Create a plan for the medical needs of your child – who is responsible for acting as the liaison between medical professionals? This will ensure that both parents are fully aware and informed as to the medical condition of the child.
- Create a parenting plan that reflects the needs of both parents, and the child. Plan for decision-making after the divorce – this will help minimize conflict.
-Plan for new romantic relationships – set boundaries that both parents are comfortable with in terms of new partners and childcare.
- Make a plan in the event that one (or both) of you die – appoint a guardian, and create a letter of intent with legal and financial information.
M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC works to help families learn about and understand special needs planning issues, such as divorce, financial planning, and planning for the challenges that arise as families undergo the special needs journey. Through the website, the blog, the workshops and other services these financial planners strive to educate families and help them better plan for their financial future. To learn more about divorce and children with special needs, please read the discussion in full on the M&L Special Needs Planning blog. Those wishing to learn more about special needs planning topics can to visit the M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC website, and are encouraged to contact them for more information.