Divorce cases in California involving children with disabilities are unique. Disabled children have more health care, medical, education and other special needs. Therefore, they require more child support during an Orange County divorce case. A higher child support award will most likely be granted if your divorce case involves a disabled child. Find out how to handle this type of divorce case to protect the best interests of your child.
Do Parents With Children That Suffer Mental and Physical Ailments Get Larger Support Settlements to Offset the Funds for Additional Resources?
Yes. In general, the parents of children with mental and/or physical ailments – including chronic conditions, terminal illnesses and disabilities – receive larger child support settlements in California divorce cases to pay for the special needs of the child. The courts are allowed to order additional child support under state law for medical, educational and other special needs for a child with a disability. Some of these needs may include:
- Ongoing medical care
- Appointments with specialists
- Physical, occupational, speech or other therapies
- Psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Travel or transportation costs
- Home or vehicle modifications
- Medical and assistive devices
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Special dietary needs and nutritional supplements
- Special education
- In-home care
These extraneous costs are in addition to the ordinary financial support that a child requires for food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs. This will result in a larger child support settlement to offset the cost of these additional resources. It is important to understand the value of your child custody case before settling with your ex-spouse if you are the custodial parent (the parent with primary child custody). Otherwise, you may accept less than your child needs for current and future care.
Can Child Support Be Awarded for a Person Over the Age of 18 if They Are Disabled?
Yes. In California, the child support law states that if a child has a disability or special needs, a support obligation can extend past the child’s 18th birthday. Although most child support orders are terminated once a child turns 18 and is no longer dependent on the custodial parent for care, there are exceptions to the rule in special cases. This includes if a child over the age of 18 is still in high school, still lives at home or has a disability.
The courts will carefully examine the situation to determine if a child support order will continue past the age of 18. First, the child must have had a mental or physical disability before the age of 18. Second, the disability must prevent the child from being able to work or live alone. The child must require continued support past the age of 18. Your family will need proof of the disability to show the courts for an extended child support order. If the paying spouse wishes to terminate a child support order after age 18, he or she must show that the child possesses the skills to live alone and earn a living wage.
How Can a Child Support Lawyer Help?
A standard divorce with children in Orange County is difficult enough. If your family has a child with a disability, it is even more important to hire an experienced child support lawyer to represent you. A lawyer will know legal strategies and methods to correctly handle a child support case and get the financial award that you need from your ex-spouse to help you properly support your child’s special needs.
Your lawyer can work with experts to create a Life Care Plan for your child, for example, so that you understand the future costs associated with your child’s ailment or condition. Your lawyer can also help you search for other sources of funding for your child, such as Social Security Disability benefits or cash assistance through state-funded programs. A child support attorney in Orange County will put your child’s needs first so that your family can look toward the future after a divorce with hope.