child playing with toy train

When a couple decides to end their marriage, it’s not uncommon for custody battles to ensue soon after. This can be incredibly stressful for all parties involved, as each parent strives to prioritize their child’s well-being while also fighting to maximize their time with their child. Many parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, given the high stakes. In such cases, the court will decide which custody arrangement serves the child’s best interests. The court acknowledges that having a regular and ongoing relationship with both parents is in a child’s best interest. Therefore, the court generally awards joint custody to preserve the parent-child relationship. However, children with physical, intellectual, emotional, or developmental disabilities require special considerations, as shared custody arrangements can disrupt their progress and development. If you’re dissolving your marriage and you have a child with special needs, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of our compassionate Monmouth County Child Custody Attorneys, who can help you navigate this complex process. Please continue reading to learn how child custody requirements differ for special needs children in New Jersey. 

Do Child Custody Requirements Differ for Special Needs Children in New Jersey?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that parents of special needs children have the same custody options as anyone else. Parents can decide to share custody, or one parent can be granted sole physical custody while the other is granted visitation rights. However, the constant transitions inherent to joint custody agreements can be problematic for special needs children. While all children need consistency and stability, special needs children require strict compliance with a parenting plan as they don’t do well with switching environments or caretakers.

Unfortunately, New Jersey State Guidelines for Child Support do not take special needs children into consideration. It doesn’t accommodate the additional costs of raising a child with special needs, including medical treatments, specialists, medications, therapy, equipment, and school tuition. The financial needs can be substantial. However, supplemental income programs, such as supplemental security (SSI) and Medicaid, may be available to offset the costs of raising a special needs child. It’s essential to keep in mind that you can create a special needs trust instead of child support to ensure your child remains eligible for government benefits.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?

Understandably, caring for a child with special needs comes with its challenges. Therefore, if you’re fighting for custody, it’s crucial to demonstrate to the court that you’re capable of caring for them and providing a nurturing environment where they can thrive. An experienced Monmouth County child custody attorney can help you fight to preserve your child’s best interests by demonstrating to the court that you’re capable of meeting their particular needs.

At Paone Zaleski & Murphy, we are prepared to help you negotiate a custody agreement that meets your child’s unique physical, emotional, and financial needs.