Having a child with a physical disability can put a strain on any marriage. Whether your child’s disability is part of the reason you and your spouse are divorcing or not, developing a custody agreement that’s in the best interests of your child can be challenging.
Assuming that you are going to share custody, you’ll have some important things to consider. Every situation is highly unique, but here are a few things to think about.
Some basic agreement on your child’s condition is important
First, it helps in you and your co-parent are basically in agreement on your child’s care and treatment. Too often, one parent is extremely cautious and protective of a disabled child while the other wants them to try as many new things as possible to see what they’re really capable of. Unfortunately, some parents are in some level of denial about their child’s disability.
It’s important to at least agree on things like whether they need ongoing physical therapy, special schooling, mobility aids and modifications to their living environment. Then whichever parent moves out of the family home can ensure that their new home is accessible and that they have any necessary medical equipment. Both parents will also have some responsibility for seeing that their child gets to medical appointments and does any home exercises that are required.
Determining who will make medical decisions
Legal custody is an important consideration in addition to physical custody. Legal custody refers to who can make decisions for their child regarding things like medical care and education. Ideally, co-parents of any child will share legal custody. However, if you and your co-parent have very different views about your child’s treatment, it may be necessary for a judge to grant sole legal custody to whomever they think will make the best decisions for the child.
Communication will be key if you’re co-parenting across two homes. That applies not just to the child’s care. As with any child, you want to keep each other informed about specific issues or health challenges they may be having as well as any milestones and accomplishments.
Whether your child has a physical, emotional or learning disability or a chronic medical condition that requires treatment, it’s crucial to work out a parenting arrangement that focuses on your child’s well-being. Having sound legal guidance is key.