Benefits of Collaborative Divorce for Families with Special Needs Children

As the parent of a child or children with special needs, your divorce should address the interests of every member of your family – including your neurotypical and neurodivergent children, your spouse, yourself, and your family unit as a whole. Many couples with special needs children find that collaborative divorce effectively addresses the complex challenges their families face and reaches solutions that work for everyone involved. 

Collaborative divorce enables you and your spouse to meet with your respective lawyers, financial professionals, mental health professionals, and other specialized advisors in a non-adversarial setting to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Your child doesn’t need to have a “special needs” diagnosis to require special attention during the divorce. Special needs can include a wide range of mental and physical impairments, such as:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Dyslexia
  • Physical impairments
  • Visual impairments

Every family is unique, but special needs families often have even more complex considerations and circumstances that can be impacted in the divorce process. With a collaborative divorce, you’ll be able to structure your divorce around your family’s needs and goals. You can consider issues like: 

  • What will your child custody arrangement and parenting schedule look like? Will the child with special needs respond well to going back and forth between houses? 
  • Does your child with special needs require ongoing medical treatment or therapy? How will you share these costs after the divorce? 
  • How will you balance your time so that you and your soon-to-be ex can have some alone time when needed? This will allow you to be better able to address your child’s needs when they are with you. 

When you go through divorce litigation, you sacrifice control over your family’s outcomes. While the court will aim to find solutions that prioritize your children’s interests, a judge may not fully understand your family’s unique needs. 

In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse maintain control over every aspect of your separation. You can ensure that you are in agreement on terms involving child support, child custody, shared parenting time, spousal support, and asset divisions.

You’ll likely prefer to maintain your family’s privacy throughout your divorce, but if you and your spouse decide to take your divorce to court, your private issues can become public, as court proceedings are generally open to the public. Going through litigation requires you to involve judges and legal professionals whom you may not be comfortable with knowing the inner workings of your special needs family. 

Collaborative divorce allows you to keep your family’s private issues private, and you won’t need to involve anyone else unless you want to. 

Raising a child with special needs often requires a comprehensive team of professionals, including therapists, teachers, doctors, and caretakers.  Collaborative divorce allows you to include these professionals in the conversation. Traditional litigation doesn’t necessarily welcome the input and involvement of these third parties.

During litigation, you and your spouse may only be able to financially plan for your special needs child until the age of 26. But with collaborative divorce, you can create a long-term financial and parenting plan that sets your child up for success through adulthood.

Navigating through divorce-related anger and depression is a journey that requires patience, self-awareness, and support. Seek professional help and explore collaborative solutions. At Vacca Family Law Group, we have seen the harm that a litigated divorce can have on mental health and that’s why we always encourage clients to consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce first. Call us at (646) 798-4603 or contact us online to find the divorce solution that’s right for you.

Vacca Family Law Group is located at One Grand Central Place, 60 E. 42nd St., Suite 764, New York, NY 10165.