Divorce or separation becomes even more complex when you have a child with special needs. California child support laws ensure that both parents contribute to the child’s financial needs.
Families should keep key considerations in mind when negotiating a support agreement in this situation.
Assessment of expenses
Parents of a child with special needs face additional expenses related to medical care, therapy, assistive technology and specialized education. Collaboratively create a budget for these costs.
A transparent and thorough evaluation guides discussions and decisions related to child support. California family courts may consider “extraordinary expenses” when calculating child support. You must clearly document these costs for judicial review.
Medical insurance and coverage
Determine how you will handle medical insurance and coverage for the child’s special needs. Discuss who will provide insurance and decide how you will share any out-of-pocket expenses.
Open coparenting communication
Open communication between co-parents is essential, especially when caring for a child with special needs. Discussing decisions related to medical treatments, therapies and educational plans can help avoid conflicts and ensure the child’s best interests.
California courts may award shared legal custody or give one parent sole legal custody. Legal custody refers to the responsibility for making important decisions on the child’s behalf. When a child has special needs, this includes decisions about education, healthcare and other key areas.
The state Department of Health estimates that one in seven California children has special healthcare needs. Parents in this situation should be aware they can modify child support orders. If your child’s circumstances change, you can request that the court review the support arrangements.