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Divorce with a Special Needs Child

Family Law Attorneys Serving the Nashville Area

The process of divorce comes with its own unique issues for every couple. When a special needs child is involved, these issues may become more complicated, especially when it comes to determining child support. The Nashville divorce lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC have the knowledge and experience to help their clients navigate complex situations while going through a separation. We are dedicated to easing the burden that a divorce may create on children.

Pursuing a Divorce with a Special Needs Child

When a child with special needs is involved in a divorce, negotiations and plans regarding property division, child custody, and child support become more complicated. As is always the case when determining child custody and visitation schedules, the court looks at what is in the child’s best interest. This may involve many more factors when it comes to determining the best interest of a child with special needs.

Tennessee courts follow Child Support Guidelines when determining the amount of child support appropriate for each parent. These guidelines take into consideration each parent’s income, as well as who has primary physical custody, and all expenses related to the child’s health, school, and other upbringing costs. However, the Guidelines do not directly address the additional expenses that may be associated with children with special needs. For instance, specialty medical care, services, and specialized equipment or alternative treatments may all need to be factored in when making these determinations. There is also a significant uncertainty in the predictability of these future expenses, making estimates and agreements difficult. Additionally, support agreements may have an impact on a parent’s eligibility for government or private benefits, such as SSI or Medicaid.

Generally, noncustodial parents must pay child support for a child until he or she is 18 years old, or until high school graduation. This timeline may be different for children with special needs. Courts in Tennessee are authorized to allow continued support for severely disabled children until they reach 21 years old. This authorization may extend beyond that age if the child continues to live with one parent. However, if the divorce filing occurs when the child is already over 18 years old, Tennessee courts lack the authority to initiate such support. Making sure that these considerations are carefully evaluated and knowledgably conducted is important in ensuring that a child with special needs receives the proper future care. An experienced family law attorney or financial planner is critical to these calculations and concerns.

Contact a Nashville Lawyer During a Divorce

Divorce is a major change in the lives of everyone who is involved. When considering what is in the best interest of a child with special needs, this change may become even more complicated. The Nashville divorce attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can help you move toward a settlement that best serves your needs and the needs of your children. Our firm offers dedicated and compassionate legal guidance to people in Franklin, Hermitage, East Nashville, Sylvan Park, and other communities in Davidson and Williamson Counties. If you need help with a divorce involving a special needs child, call 615-800-7096 or contact us online to see how our family law attorneys can help.