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Seeking extra child support for special needs children

The normal laws that govern child support in Massachusetts do not cover the unique requirements and costs associated with the care of a child with a disability. Depending on the circumstances of the special needs child for whom the support is intended, costs of care may include medications, equipment, special therapy, special school tuition and more. The routine rules and regulations that govern child support allotments simply do not cover these needs.

Because divorces that involve a special needs child are so unique in this respect, it may be necessary to request that the Child Support Guidelines be modified. In cases where it is shown that a child does indeed have out-of-the-ordinary expenses associated with his or her care, Massachusetts courts could order a support calculation that reflects this reality. That said, it is important that the claims for extra support are solidly documented in order to prevail on such a request.

In child support disputes, it is not uncommon for a divorcing parent, no matter if he or she is the payer or recipient of child support, to try and show how poor his or her economic situation is in order to pay less or receive more support. As such, it may be difficult to convince the paying spouse to pay an above-normal amount without resorting to litigation. Fortunately, in the case of a litigated child support dispute, courts will generally recognize expenses that are recurring and predictable -- mainly because they are a regular part of a family's life -- and add these costs to the calculations.

A child custody dispute regarding a child with special needs comes with its own variety of unique challenges. However, at Johnson, Sclafani and Moriarty we are fully aware of parents' rights in such cases and we are passionate about preserving those rights under the law.

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