Divorce is hard for everyone. The challenges and difficulties that have to be overcome can be substantial. But for special needs kids and their parents, those challenges are usually a lot more complex, and can make the divorce process even harder. In addition to the emotional toll that divorce takes on every family, parents of kids with special needs will need even more patience, even more compassion, and even more dedication if they are going to make it through this difficult time.
While patience, compassion and dedication will go a long way towards making this transition easier, there are a number of other things that will help a lot as well. Special needs kids need an uninterrupted continuation of emotional and financial care, regardless of what upheavals their families may be facing. Which is why divorcing parents will need to consider additional financial support and arrangements for their special needs child, both during and after the divorce.
It is a well-known fact that families with disabled and special needs children spend thousands of dollars every year dealing with uninsured medical expenses. Divorce will not change this reality, and so for this reason it’s critical that divorcing couples with disabled or special needs children address the issue of medical expenses when figuring out the details of their divorce settlement.
For example, things like health insurance premiums and deductibles, medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, and any alternative medical treatments are all expenses that will need to be accounted for. Deciding who is responsible for what, when working out the terms of your divorce settlement, will make it considerably easier down the road when you are faced with a substantial medical bill and a potentially smaller income.
Certain states, including Michigan, allow for child support to be secured by a life insurance policy. For the parents of special needs and disabled children, it is worth it in this situation to discuss with your respective divorce attorneys the option of negotiating a policy that would cover both medical expenses and basic daily needs, in the event that the paying parent passes away.
Talk to your family law attorney about the unique circumstances that your family is facing. Explain exactly what your family faces on a daily basis in caring for your special needs or disabled child. This way, your attorney will be able to work out exactly what it is that will best suit your family, and be able to negotiate on your behalf to ensure that your current and future needs are met.
Special Needs Trust
It is highly recommended that divorcing parents with special needs kids work with their attorneys during divorce proceedings to create a special needs trust. A special needs trust, also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, is a specialized legal document that is designed to benefit an individual who has a disability. The trust would provide benefits to, and protect the assets of, a disabled beneficiary. It would also serve to protect the child’s ability to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits.
Having talked about the financial concerns that divorcing couples with these unique challenges will need to think about, join us next time when we will be discussing the emotional concerns that you may need to consider during your divorce.