Creative Alternatives to the Courtroom

Child Support for Special Needs Children

We know that the divorce rate among all couples is about 50%, but there is no question that divorce rates are even higher among parents of children with special needs.

Below is an article that was written by Dr. Howard Drutman and Marsha Schechtman, LCSW. In this article, they talk about the considerations that must be understood about the special needs child. In addition to their information, we also have to think about the financial needs of the special needs child.

Some Items to Think About Regarding Financial Needs:

Special needs children have more expenses than a child without special needs.

They often need all types of therapies including:

  • Occupational
  • Speech
  • Physical
  • Psychiatric

They often have additional costs including:

  • Cost of non-prescription needs
  • Vitamins, nutrients and dietary needs
  • Assistive devices
  • Special cars
  • As well as a list of endless items that could be needed for the special needs child.

The End of the Marriage Does Not End the Commitment to the Child with Special Needs

It is important for any child support dedicated to a child with special needs to be allocated under the divorce agreement to a special needs trust so that the assets do not affect the child’s ability to receive government assistance. It is important that each parent have appropriate special needs planning in order to protect the child’s eligibility for assistance.

Special Needs Trusts

There are two types of special needs trusts.

  1. One is designed to hold assets that are gifted or bequeathed to a person with special needs from a third party. This is a Third-Party Special Needs Trust. A Third-Party Special Needs Trust can be set up at any time to receive gifts or bequests from friends and family members.  
  2. The other is designed to hold the assets that are already deemed to be owned by the person with special needs. This is a First-Party Special Needs Trust. The First-Party Special Needs Trust is created to own the assets currently owned in the name of the person who is special needs.  

The First-Party Special Needs Trust can only be set up by a parent, grandparent, guardian or a court. It can only be set up for someone who is deemed to be disabled under the Social Security Administration’s definition.

There are many more items to be considered and it is highly recommended to seek the advice of professionals who work in this area.