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What Should You Know about Child Support for Your Special Needs Child?

book that reads Special Needs

In determining a fair amount of child support, New York courts will always consider the individual needs of the child, but they will likely follow several widely-recognized formulas in determining an appropriate amount of support. When your child has special needs, the costs involved in raising your child are unlikely to correspond neatly with the outcomes of formulas created to cover the costs of raising a typically-abled child.

In these cases, it’s likely that you’ll need to be prepared to advocate for your child’s unique needs during a divorce and child support determination. Some of the issues that could affect the amount of support that you’ll receive or pay include:

  • The age that your child will become ineligible for support: Child support obligations end for typically-abled children at age 21. If a family court has determined that the child is unable to live independently or earn a living, child support obligations may be extended, and parents should prepare to provide for their children into their adulthood. In some cases, parents may disagree about the extent of their child’s disability. If the support-paying parent questions whether the child is truly incapable of caring for themselves and earning a living, then they may need to attend a hearing before the family court to argue their case for why a child does or does not need to continue to receive support.
  • Parents should conduct financial planning for their disabled child: If your child has major disabilities, you may need to plan with your co-parent for how they’ll continue to receive support after you retire or pass away. This could include setting up a special needs trust, which can provide financial support in a way that doesn’t interfere with your child’s ability to receive public benefits. You may want to request that the court include regular mandatory contributions to a trust or other savings account created for your child’s benefit.
  • The costs involved in child care: Parents of special needs children aren’t always able to take advantage of traditional child care options and may need a child care provider with expertise in developmental, medical, or behavioral issues. The costs of this type of care might also increase as the child grows older. Both parents should be expected to share these expenses, and parents may need to periodically adjust child support payments to include increases in these costs.

If you need seasoned, professional, and compassionate legal help with a New York divorce or custody determination, contact the Poughkeepsie family law attorneys at Van DeWater & Van DeWater for a consultation at 845-452-5900.

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