Of the approximately one million divorces that take place annually in the United States between parents with children, some will naturally be between parents of kids who have disabilities.
Divorce affects all children, even those who are already grown. But it can affect disabled kids even more than usual. If you find yourself in this situation, below is some advice to consider when proceeding with your divorce.
Custody matters are weighty
All family law judges, whether here in Florida or elsewhere, are bound to base their custody decisions on the best interests of the children.
With differently-abled children, those best interests may differ markedly from those of their siblings who don’t face the same challenges. For instance, it might be perfectly fine for kids without disabilities to move from one parent’s home to the other’s when custody changes hands.
For an autistic child who thrives on routine and consistency, for example, this could be a nightmare for them to endure. Just as soon as they felt any semblance of routine had been established in one parent’s home, it would be time to switch houses. The poor kid would feel that they were never secure and at peace.
Parents may need to get creative
The concept of “bird’s nest parenting” is relatively new but might be ideal in these situations. With this type of custody arrangement, the parents transition in and out of the family home so the child always remains stable and secure. It has its flaws and will not work for all couples facing divorce, but it has been a godsend for some families.
Can both parents meet the child’s needs?
It’s time to get real. If you work 60-hour weeks or your work requires extensive travel or swing shifts, traditional co-parenting custody agreements may not serve you or your child well. This does not mean that you have to be shut out of your child’s life entirely, however.
What you will need to do is to think outside of the box to develop a workable custody plan where you are able to share quality time with your disabled child and still meet your work commitments. You and your Florida family law attorney can brainstorm ideas to bring to the mediation table or the courtroom.