Sharing children with your spouse can be a significant deterrent to divorce because you worry about custody, child support and the emotional impact of divorce on the kids you love. If you have a child with special needs, there can be many more issues that arise.

For example, you may have left the workforce in order to provide around-the-clock care for your child with intractable epilepsy. You might have a child with a condition so severe that you know they will require support from you that keeps you from working for the rest of your life.

If you are both the caregiver for your child and financially dependent on your spouse because of it, you may feel trapped and like you have no options. However, there is support available for both dependent spouses and parents of special-needs children during a divorce.

Your child’s needs will inform property division and support decisions

When the Texas family courts have to make decisions about splitting up your property and awarding child support, they try to look carefully at a family’s circumstances. Special medical costs and the need for constant monitoring can influence how much child support the courts order in your divorce.

In fact, trying to preserve stability for your child might also motivate the courts to award you more in a property settlement for divorce as well if you have primary custody. It is even possible that custody of your child could inspire the court to award you alimony if you will be the one providing care for the child for the indefinite future. 

Child support and alimony can last longer in special needs situations

Generally, child support ends when the child reaches adulthood, while spousal support or alimony ends after a predetermined amount of time.

In a scenario where you will be the primary caregiver for a child with special needs and will likely not be able to rejoin the workforce as a result, the courts may order child support that lasts even after your child reaches adulthood, provided they receive their diagnosis before they turn 18. The courts may also award you permanent alimony if the circumstances justify it.

The right help early in your divorce, ideally before you talk with your spouse about it or file any paperwork, can help you plan for the best possible level of stability for you and your child with special needs during and after the divorce.