Divorce Involving a Special Needs Child in Maryland

October 17, 2023 - By: Stuart H. Grozbean

Managing a divorce involving a special needs child in Maryland can be complex and emotionally taxing. However, based on my most recent knowledge update in September 2021, I can confidently state that the legal procedures and considerations for such divorces in Maryland typically include the following:

  1. Custody and Visitation: When it comes to divorce cases involving children, determining custody arrangements is of utmost importance. In Maryland, the court prioritizes the best interests of the child, taking into account their unique needs. Factors such as the child’s specific requirements, the parent’s ability to meet those needs, and the child’s relationship with each parent are carefully considered by the court.
  2. Child Support: Child support is a crucial aspect of any divorce settlement involving children, and in Maryland, it is calculated based on the income of both parents, with established guidelines in place. However, the court also takes into account additional factors such as the extraordinary expenses associated with caring for a special needs child. This ensures that the child’s unique needs are given due consideration when determining child support payments.
  3. Special Needs Trusts: To ensure that the financial future of the child is secure, creating a special needs trust can be a wise decision. Such a trust can be used to provide for the child’s needs without affecting their eligibility for government assistance programs. This can prove to be a crucial step in securing the child’s long-term financial stability.
  4. Education and Therapy Costs: Special needs children often require additional educational and therapy services that can be expensive. Parents may need to address how these costs will be covered in the divorce settlement to ensure that the child’s needs are met. This can involve negotiating for additional financial support to cover such expenses or including them in the child support agreement.
  5. Mediation and Collaborative Divorce: Mediation or collaborative divorce can be particularly helpful for divorcing couples with a special needs child. These methods encourage cooperation and can be less adversarial, allowing both parties to reach an agreement that considers the unique needs and concerns of the child. This approach can be particularly effective in ensuring that the best interests of the child are given due consideration.
  6. Individualized Parenting Plans: Children with special needs often require specific routines and care. Therefore, it is crucial to create a parenting plan that takes these needs into account. This plan should be designed to ensure that the child’s unique requirements are met and that both parents are on the same page when it comes to providing care for the child. This can help to avoid any confusion or inconsistencies in the care provided to the child.
  7. Legal Representation: It is highly recommended that both parties consult with experienced family law attorneys who have expertise in dealing with divorce cases involving special needs children. Such attorneys can help navigate the legal process and protect the child’s interests. They can provide valuable guidance and advice on the legal procedures and considerations specific to the case, ensuring that both parties fully understand their rights and obligations.

It is important to keep in mind that laws and regulations can change over time, which is why it is essential to consult with a legal professional who is up to date on Maryland’s current family law statutes. Such an attorney can provide you with specific guidance tailored to your situation and ensure that your legal options are fully explored. By staying informed of the latest developments in family law, they can help you make informed decisions and protect your rights and interests throughout the legal process.