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Can I receive more child support for a disabled child?

When parents of a disabled child divorce, the typical issues inherent to all divorcing couples become much more complex. While judges' decisions are predicated on the child's best interests, with a disabled child, the usual factors may be quite different.

With a disabled child, divorcing parents have to commit to more than just the legal minimum of responsibilities and adjust the home environment to fit their child's developing needs.

Attorneys for divorcing clients with disabled children cite these critical issues:

-- Visitation rights, including transitions from one parent's home to the other's

-- Health care and any specific therapies

-- Decisions regarding education

-- Recreational and social opportunities

Some of the care requirements for a disabled child can be very costly. Some government programs and social service agencies offer financial relief or low- or no-cost services, but the bottom line is that parents of kids with disabilities will have to shell out more cash to sustain their children over their lifetime.

This conceivably could cause a judge to order more than the required amount of child support based on the two parents' incomes. Severely disabled children who require 24-hour supervision and continual care will need parental support even after reaching adulthood. All of these issues must be introduced by the attorney for the custodial parent in order for the court to consider increasing the amount of child support.

If you are in the midst of a divorce and are parenting a disabled child, or if you are already divorced and circumstances require a child support modification, seeking the counsel of an experienced family law attorney or a disability advocate may help you present a stronger case to the court.

Source: American Bar Association, "When Parents of Children with Disabilities Divorce," Barbara Epperson, accessed Sep. 03, 2015

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