Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children

Posted by Erin Birt | May 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children

Studies show that the rate of autism is increasing. The risk of Down syndrome is also increasing as women delay childbirth into their late 30s.

More parents are raising autistic children and little ones with other special needs, ultimately necessitating customized parenting plans for divorcing couples that consider the unique circumstances of a child or family. Even raising a child with moderate depression or another psychiatric, neurological, or medical condition necessitates a carefully tailored parenting plan.

The Merits of a Parenting Plan Customized for Your Special Needs Child

Raising a special needs child requires additional care, patience, and attention. Ending a marriage with divorce makes the challenges of parenting a special needs child that much more difficult. An expertly crafted parenting plan tailored to your family's unique needs in the context of your child accounts forall factors that come into play. For example, your child might need weekly mental health counseling, require dietary restrictions, or benefit from tutoring sessions tailored to his or her unique learning style.

Birt Law is here to develop a parenting plan unique to you and your special needs child. We provide family-centered divorce services along with child-centered mediation to help the parents of special needs kids, tweens, and teens move forward with the optimal plan. We take pride in developing carefully written parenting plans that evolve with your child's idiosyncratic and changing needs. Recognize that your special needs child's needs are likely to change as time progresses, lean on our Chicago family law attorneys to develop the appropriate parenting plan, and you'll be able to move forward in full confidence.

Special needs kids may require additional supervision to address their developmental disabilities. Other special needs kids may have mental health, educational, or highly specific medical challenges that must be addressed in the parenting plan.

The terms of a conventional parenting plan may not address or accommodate your special needs child's unique challenges. Birt Law is here to help prevent such a frustrating transition by carefully developing, or suggesting revisions to, a parenting plan unique to your family's situation.

Why Parenting Plans for Kids With Special Needs Are the New Norm

It wasn't long ago when parents who decided to divorce proceeded with standard parenting plans, regardless of their family's unique characteristics. Such generic parenting plans often proved problematic, posing insurmountable hurdles such as an overly rigid approach to child education or a stress-inducing visitation schedule that proves stifling to your special needs child. Birt Law is here to create a fully customized parenting plan that accounts for your family's challenges in parenting a special needs child.

The logic in writing a parenting plan tailored to the obstacles presented by a particular diagnosis or need is that it addresses inevitable crises bound to arise in the years ahead. Special needs children often require prompt medical attention, a flexible approach to education, and protection against sensory stimuli. This proactive approach to the divorce process recognizes that special needs children are unique and require extra care.

Meet with our family law attorney in Wheaton or via Zoom, tell us about your family's dynamics, and we'll develop a parenting plan that is mutually beneficial for all parties. We create such plans with a focus on your child's well-being, prioritizing his or her needs and condition before that of the parents. The underlying objective of developing such a customized plan is to address your family's unique challenges, paving a path toward the proper care for your special needs child that is also fair to both parents.

The alternative is to assume a standard parenting plan will suffice despite your offspring having distinct mental, behavioral, or developmental challenges. Recognize the risks in this outdated approach, be forthright with our Chicago divorce attorneys when discussing your family situation, and we'll tailor the language of your parenting plan accordingly. We take pride in providing the expert guidance necessary to help you seamlessly end your marriage without jeopardizing the safety and happiness of your special needs child.

Examples of How Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children Are Structured

No two divorces, parents, or children are the same. Factor in the unique challenges having a child with special needs presents, and the necessity of a customized parenting plan becomes all the more apparent. Your special needs child may require additional care and attention in the following aspects:

  • Education
  • Socialization
  • Prescription medications
  • Physical care
  • Counseling
  • Supplemental nutritional needs
  • Caregiving
  • Daily life activities

The best parenting plans for parents of special needs children address each of these unique challenges.

In particular, the agreement should address child custody with the child's interests squarely in mind. Legal custody refers to the responsibility and right to make decisions about the child's well-being across posterity. Alternatively, physical custody is centered on looking after the special needs child in terms of location, safety, and micro-level daily decisions.

  • Joint physical custody sets the stage for the child to split time with both parents.
  • Joint legalcustody empowers both parents to have input into the decisions that shape the child's life.
  • Sole custody empowers one parent with both legal and physical custody of the child. However, the other parent can enjoy visitation rights if sole custody is awarded.

Meet with our family law attorneys in Wheaton, tell us about your family dynamics, discuss the existing caregiving arrangement, and we'll develop a legal strategy for determining the appropriate child custody arrangement, be it joint physical custody, sole custody, or another arrangement. Please note in Illinois we use different terms to describe legal and physical custody and we can educate you about the terminology and statutory requirements in Illinois for decision making and parenting time.

Schedule a Consultation With Birt Law

Our family law attorneys in Chicago and Wheaton develop optimal parenting plans for those with special needs children. If you are a parent with a special needs child or facing another family law matter, reach out to us today at 630-891-2478 to schedule a consultation. We offer a free 15 min intro call, however, if you need more time, we also offer a higher level of support with an hour limited scope consultation. You can also contact our family law attorneys in Chicago online through our convenient contact form.

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  • Erin Birt

    Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on pa...

About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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Birt Family Law is the family centered law and mediation practice with a focus on Restorative Divorce; offering creative and supportive legal and mediation solutions with one goal: keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a positive resolution.

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