Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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How is child support determined for special needs children?

Families with children of special needs aren't much different from families who do not have special needs children. This is especially true in terms of divorce. Even parents of special needs children have issues that they sometimes cannot resolve. If you are the parent of a special needs child, you may wonder if child support determinations are different due to the extra care your child requires?

Many parents would be surprised to hear that child support values are determined much the same way for special needs children as any other child. This is because child support numbers are based on parents' income, best interests of the child and other factors pertinent to the family. There is one main difference, however. Since many special needs children are dependent upon their parents past their 18th birthday, child support may continue for longer into the child's life than it would for non-special needs children.

The majority of parents' child support obligation ends when their child turns 18 and is, technically, not a child anymore. Since special needs children require extra care, they may not be able to care for themselves or financially support themselves once they reach this age. Since child support is tailored to a family's unique situation, the courts are usually more lenient as to how long child support continues for a special needs child. This is good news for a primary care-taker of a special needs child.

Financial obligation is just one responsibility that a parent has when raising a child. It is an important piece but not the only thing a child needs to thrive and achieve their goals. Special needs children are no different than non-special needs children in that respect. This is why their child support is tailored to their situation.

Source: FindLaw, "When Does Child Support End?," Accessed October 3, 2016

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