Children with Special Needs and Child Support

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When parents divorce, child support is an important component of the legal process. Both parents are naturally responsible for supporting their children through childhood, and typically, the parent with a visitation schedule makes child support payments to the primary custodial parent with whom the children live primarily. While child support usually adheres closely to the State of Texas's child support guidelines, if the child in question has special needs, the court will take this into careful consideration in its determination of child support, and these guidelines will not necessarily be carefully followed.

Special Needs

For your child to be classified as having special needs in relation to Texas child support, he or she must have a medical or mental health concern that leaves him or her substantially incapable of implementing self-care or of living independently. Some serious health issues, nevertheless, do not rise to this level. As such, the courts take the classification of special needs in relation to child support on a case-by-case basis. In other words, it is complicated.

Identifying Your Child’s Special Needs

The court will carefully consider a variety of sources to help determine if your child qualifies as having special needs for the purposes of child support. These sources can include:

  • Your child’s medical and educational records

  • Your child’s mental health records

  • Reports from your child’s school counselor

  • Reports from your child’s occupational and/or speech therapist

The court will analyze the information provided and make a determination regarding whether or not your child has special needs (for the purposes of child support). If special needs are identified, the court will determine your child support based on the unique needs of your child.

Duration of Support

While there is a definite end date for child support that does not involve children with special needs, this is not necessarily the case for a child who is so classified. For a child with special needs, court-ordered child support can be mandated beyond his or her 18th birthday as long as it is established that the disability was identified before he or she turned 18. Support for a child with special needs may be extended indefinitely, or it may extend to a specific date in the future. If there is a chance that your child could show improvement, the court may extend support to his or her 19th birthday and reevaluate child support then. Finally, even if your child has already turned 18, you can bring the child support issue up with the court as long as you can establish that his or her disability was identified before his or her 18th birthday.

Consult with an Experienced Killeen Family Law Attorney Today

If you have a child with special needs, obtaining the child support you need is essential. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a formidable family law attorney with the experience, compassion, and resources to help ensure that the child support you are awarded is commensurate with your child’s needs now and into the future. We are here to help, so please contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.

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