How Are Custody Decisions Made for Special Needs Children?

mother with child

Custody battles are often the toughest part of any divorce, but matters can be made even more complex if special needs children are involved. Caring for any child is a massive undertaking, but caring for a child who has special needs can require even more time and effort on behalf of both parents. Who should get custody is still decided with the best interests of the child in mind, but there are also other factors that need to be considered when custody agreements are drawn up. A Tazewell County child custody lawyer from our firm can help you make your case.

What is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?

First, it’s important to talk about physical and legal custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Both parents can be awarded legal custody and that would allow both of them to weigh in on decisions regarding healthcare, education, and other important topics.

Then there is physical custody. This is who the child spends most of their time with. A parent can have legal custody, but not physical custody.

What Factors Can Affect Who Gets Custody of Special Needs Children?

While both parents can be awarded legal custody, who gets awarded physical custody of special needs children can often be a more complicated question. The well-being of the child is always going to be the most important thing. So the court is going to ask questions like:

  • Who has been the primary caregiver?
  • How has each parent reacted to the child’s diagnosis?
  • What kind of schedule does each parent have?
  • Does the child clearly have a stronger bond with one parent?
  • How can each parent handle the stress of raising special needs children?
  • Which parent could be more effective at meeting the child’s care needs?
  • Which home has accommodations for the child?

Every case like this is different, but the bottom line is that the court is going to evaluate all of the evidence and testimony to figure out which parent is going to be able to create the safest home for their child.

Can Parents Still Get Visitation With Special Needs Children?

The parent who does not get physical custody may still get visitation rights. They just might not look like those found in a typical custody agreement. For example, if the child has a physical disability and the noncustodial parent’s home is not set up to safely accommodate their disability, visitation may have to take place at the custodial parent’s home or at another location.

Contact Our Family Lawyers

If you want to learn more about how our lawyers can be of assistance, contact Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. and schedule a consultation. Fighting for custody of special needs children can be difficult, but we will do everything that we can to advocate on your behalf and fight for the best possible outcome.

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