Child Support And Special Needs
Under Florida law, parents have an obligation to support their children until they reach the age of majority. Under certain conditions, that obligation might extend beyond the 18th birthday. In a family with a child with special needs, the parents might need to provide financial support indefinitely.
Children with mental, physical or emotional special needs incur a number of expenses, some of which can be anticipated, while others cannot. When parents divorce, they should attempt to include as many ongoing or eventual expenses in their support agreement as possible. Some examples include:
- Supplementary educational or tutoring costs
- Medical expenses and future surgeries
- Modifications to home, car and workplace as needed
- Physical or occupational therapy
The needs of the child might change, and parents would benefit from anticipating this, if at all possible. A child who might be able to live independently or in a group home might become financially dependent at some point. The agreement should include a provision for this.
Some children remain dependent for the rest of their lives. When parents divorce, one parent might be in a position to provide more of the day-to-day physical care than the other. Both parents should attempt to share in the parenting of the child, as they would in any time-sharing arrangement. If a child with special needs is capable of moving between parents’ homes or spending extended visits with each parent, both parents should make an effort to create a home environment that is accommodating and appropriate for the child.
Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is available to answer your questions about shared parenting and the financial obligations to care for a child with special needs. Our family attorneys serve the Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton areas.