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When divorcing spouses have children with special needs

Divorcing with children represents unique challenges to those going through the process. Divorcing with children with special needs makes those challenges even more complex to deal with. More decisions, and more difficult considerations, will come into play when dissolving a marriage that involves a child with special needs.

The custodial parent will take on the majority of the responsibilities of caring for a child with special needs. Meanwhile, the noncustodial parent may need to pay a higher than normal amount of money in child support each month in order to account for unique expenses that a child with special needs may incur.

Nebraska child support guidelines don't include charts to determine how much a parent should pay in child support for a child with special needs. That is because every child with special needs is a unique situation that has to be reviewed individually to determine an appropriate amount to be paid for child support. Here are two important questions that parents and courts will need to answer when making a determination regarding child support payments in these cases:

-- Who will the child live with? The custodial parent will generally be entitled to receive child support payments to help with general expenses and other costs relating to caring for a child with special needs.

-- How much contact will the noncustodial parent have with the child? Whether a noncustodial parent will be caring for the child part-time, half-time or only have short visitation rights will play an important role in decisions relating to child support obligations.

By working with a family law attorney, Nebraska parents can seek to answer the above questions and try to arrive at a reasonable amount to be paid in child support payments regarding a child with special needs. With a lawyer's help, parents can also arrive at a suitable visitation and/or parenting schedule that honors the best interests of all parties involved.

Source: Special Needs Alliance, "Divorce and Children with Special Needs," Lili A. Vasileff, accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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