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Special Needs Child and Divorce

Special Needs Child and Divorce

During divorce, a couple with a child with special needs requires experienced legal help.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is often attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Still other children suffer from birth defects or other disabling conditions or birth injury.

The strain of caring for a special needs child can, by itself, contribute to divorce. When a marriage breaks down, the responsibility of crafting a suitable, supportive life for their child is a priority of most parents.

During divorce, issues that arise concerning the care of a special needs child include:

  • The need to create an appropriate parenting time plan is essential. Unlike more usual parenting time schedules, children with special needs often do not thrive with a schedule that requires frequent transition.
  • In Utah, courts have the authority to make child support rulings outside of state guidelines when the care of a special needs child is at issue. Parents might consider lifetime payments to a trust, or additional child support until the child is 21 or older.
  • During divorce and after, parents must continue to make decisions concerning appropriate medical and other therapies. In a contentious divorce, this task is made harder and could require legal intervention.
  • At divorce, couples should consider lifetime care of their child. Should a special needs trust be established?  What steps can be taken to ensure the child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when he or she reaches that point?
  • If one parent has been the dominant care giver, that history should be taken into account when considering custody.

Divorce and New Year’s Resolutions

If you went through a divorce this year, you’re probably not going to be too sad to say goodbye to the year 2017. Turning the calendar over can feel like the perfect time to make a fresh start. To that end, if you’ve had relationship woes this year, you might consider making a few New Year’s resolutions to get off to a healthy, happy start in 2018.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Be Your Best Self: It might feel a bit cliché, but there’s something to be said for making self-love a priority after you get out of a bad relationship. Embrace who you are and find ways to treat yourself every now and then.
  • Keep a Diary or a Journal: Recording your thoughts and feeling can be a great way to work through the complicated emotions you’ve had in your head. Therapists and counselors often recommend journaling to help people find relief from many of the negative emotions that are plaguing their lives.




  • Make Good Financial Decisions for Yourself: Coming out of a divorce, you may have much less money to work with in your monthly budget. Figure out the areas in which you can cut back so you can continue to save and invest in your future. To start, think of a financial goal you’d like to begin working toward that is a special treat (such as a trip to Europe). Then, develop a plan to reach that goal.
  • Acknowledge Your Accomplishments: Before plunging ahead into your new life, consider issues like when you think you’ll be ready to start dating again, what types of big life changes you should or should not make and the steps you can take to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
  • Do Something Adventurous: Get involved in new clubs or organizations, take up a new sport, join a new gym or travel somewhere new. Embrace the fact that you have the flexibility to try new things — and even make new friends while doing it.

Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.