Special considerations need to be made when creating a divorce agreement for a family with a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. First, we address the actual day-to-day parenting plan. How can you both provide consistency in care and schedule when you will now be living in two separate homes. Will siblings follow the same schedule? How will you help your child handle the transition from one home to another? How can you trust that the other parent is following through with existing routines or therapies? Establishing good communication with your co-parent will help ensure this continuity for your child/children. Co-parents who used divorce mediation to develop their divorce agreement tend to have stronger, more amicable and consistent communication skills post-divorce. They have practiced communicating directly with one another about difficult topics throughout the course of divorce mediation. A sense of trust is built that you are on the same page regarding the children. And you can continue to build upon the base of the positive co-parent relationship that was established during the divorce mediation process.
Another major area to address is finances. Children on the Autism Spectrum tend to have many additional expenses compared to their neuro-typical siblings. For example, they may have co-pays or fees for therapies, counseling, vitamins or special diet food that is not covered by insurance. Child support does not include these expenses and they can add up quickly since they are reoccurring each month. During mediation you and your co-parent can develop a realistic plan to make sure that these extra costs are covered.
A third major area to address is a plan to care for your child physically and financially beyond the age of 18. This need may vary from family to family, depending on the abilities of your child. Does a special needs trust need to be established? Is alternate housing needed? What supports will be needed and who will provide them?
The mediators at Westfield Mediation, LLC, are equipped to help you tackle all the extra issues that need to be addressed in your divorce agreement when a child with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is involved.
For more information on divorce and divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.