Writing a parenting plan during custody negotiations in any divorce can be emotional and complex. And as some estranged New Jersey couples will discover, when the parenting plan refers to a special needs child, it can become a lot more complicated. However, the more specific and detailed the plan, the more you can guarantee that the special needs child’s necessities are met throughout their life.
Planning for the future
In most family situations, a parent’s financial responsibility ends when the child turns 18 or becomes emancipated. However, with a special needs child, this responsibility might continue throughout their entire life. The custody agreement should reflect this. Some of the specifics that can be included to ensure that support will continue beyond the age of 18 include:
- Creating a Special Needs Trust for the child’s care and ensuring that it is named as the beneficiary of your ex-spouse’s and your life insurance policies and 401(k) accounts after either’s death
- Having your ex-spouse take out a life insurance policy that will cover the lifetime amount the child might need in case your ex-spouse dies
- If necessary, creating an order of child support that, if allowed by the state, lists in specific detail how all expenses related to the child’s care, including any recreational activities and education, will be paid for between the former spouses
If you are awarded full legal custody with the power to make all decisions for your child, you should still include a clause in your agreement that states that your ex-spouse supports all therapies and treatments you choose for your child. You should establish who has decision-making power for each aspect of the child’s life and how you will address this over time.