Medical conditions, both in the child and in on one of the parents, can have a direct impact on the decision about custody in an Illinois divorce. All of the issues handled in custody decisions, including visitation, custody, support, and property division, become more complex when weighing medical needs. Understanding these impacts is important when entering child custody decisions.
Special Needs Children and Child Custody
A child who has special needs may have additional expenses to care for properly than a child without these needs. Medical equipment, appointments, and therapies all require additional money. If the child faces additional nutritional needs or requires nursing care, that is an additional expense. These can be considered when figuring child support amounts in a child custody case.
Similarly, the child’s needs will factor into where the child lives and which parent has physical custody. It may be safer or more helpful for the child to live with one particular parent over the other because the parent lives near medical providers or therapists, as an example. A family law attorney will walk parents through these considerations to help them create a parenting plan that accounts for these needs.
If the child’s special needs require a lifetime of care, that also can be addressed in the custody and support discussions. Typical child support ends when the child is 18, but if the child cannot live alone due to disability, the support order can continue.
Finally, sometimes children with special needs will become eligible for SSI benefits at some point in their lives. Child support payments can impact that eligibility, which could be detrimental to the child. Sometimes, SSI benefits, including the medical insurance it brings, are more helpful than a large child support payment, so parents and their attorneys need to weigh all of these factors.
Parents with Special Needs
Disabilities and other special needs of a parent can also impact custody arrangements. Parents with disabilities have the same legal rights as other parents, but sometimes face discrimination in parenting discussions. The non-disabled parent may try to prove that the disabled parent is in some way unfit to maintain custody of the child. Parents with disabilities have the right to fight this type of discrimination and receive the same consideration for custody and visitation rights as a non-disabled parent, and entering the process understanding these rights will help them protect their parenting of and relationship with their child.