Getting divorced when you are the parent of a special needs or medically complex child can seem like a daunting task which could put an unbearable amount of additional stress on an already stressed out family system. Many couples with a special needs child make the default decision to stay in an unhappy marriage because the unique issues they face seem impossible to manage on their own or in separate households.

For all parents, one of the scariest parts of a divorce is the co-parenting plan. When parents of special needs or medically complex children get divorced there are additional issues that may arise in the process. Some of these issue may include:

– Medical and therapy appointments
– Medication management
– Special diet consideration
– Behavior plans
– Adaptive equipment
– SSDI or respite funds
– IEP and school issues
– Transitions and travel planning
– Guardianship when the child turns 18
– Special needs trusts, ABLE accounts and 529s
Because of these and other unique circumstances associated with divorce when there is a special needs child it may be necessary to deviate from the standard parenting plan or child support formulas provided by the courts. If this is the case, the collaborative divorce process is almost certainly the best route for the whole family.

Collaborative divorces allow for flexibility and creativity that you are unlikely to find through the courts. In a collaborative divorce you are not bound by standardized forms or one-size fits all protocols. If you are raising a special needs child you already know that many people do not understand the additional time, energy and money you put into meeting your child’s needs. If you have decided to move forward with a divorce you will need a team who understands the many complicated issues involved with ending your marriage while also preserving a safe and consistent environment for your child.

For more information on the collaborative divorce process please visit:

Dena Tranen, LCSW is a trained collaborative law professional and licensed clinical social worker. She works as a mental health coach, therapist and co-parenting specialist.

Phone: 617-640-6883


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