We all love our children (at least I hope so as it is our job), and while parents feel guilty about filing for divorce when their children are young, when you have a special needs child, your level of guilt can become much worse if it is not well planned and you are not focused on the child's needs. As a divorce attorney in New Jersey with children, I know about the issues parents have when one of their children or more, have special needs. While children without ADD, ADHD, Autism and the like require an extensive amount of time and energy from parents, a child with special needs can require much more time and energy from both parents and these parents face much higher odds in obtaining a divorce than couples that do not have special needs children. The added pressure and importance of parents to work together while raising special needs children and the energy needed to: ride the emotional ups and downs, work, schoolwork, bills, etc all culminate into a recipe for a disaster at times or in legal terms, a divorce. If you feel this way, the next steps do not have to be a disaster, your children can still thrive and a plan can be put in place as to whether you should have sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, etc.
The differences between one child and another that have the same diagnosis can be alarming and if not handled correctly, the child can suffer. Your child can suffer in school, can suffer socially and without a plan between the divorcing parents, matters can get worse. Instead if you work with a divorce lawyer that understands autism, IEPs, school study teams, learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, manic depression and other related issues that must be addressed right at the beginning of the divorce case if a plan has not been made already for the post divorce household.
One thing to keep in mind is while many of us know people who have children with special needs, never assume that the other lawyer in your case truly does or that the Judge knows about special needs children or if the Judge does, how much does the Judge know about the specific issue your child faces everyday. It is essential that the Judge in family court can start to understand what challenges your child faces, what challenges you face when dealing with your former spouse, for the judge to view your child as a child and not another statistic. I say this because Judges in the New Jersey Family Courts are often shuffled around into different areas of law and even if they are not shuffled around, the workload for Judges in counties like Hudson, Essex, Bergen and Passaic is very heavy and this workload makes it harder for a Judge to understand everyone's unique challenges and have the time to do so. This workload and dealing with complex issues requires you to have an advocate that is with you so that your child's voice is really heard in court and that his or her voice is understood. My team and I are experienced in divorces and family law cases that involve special needs children in New Jersey.
Out of the many issues you may deal with in a divorce or in life, nothing is harder to see than seeing your child struggle. In cases where there is a special needs child, legal custody, along with co-parenting, can be the most important issue in the case. The ability to communicate with your soon to be former spouse is one of the most important factors when determining the legal custody of a child. While New Jersey Family Courts do prefer that joint legal custody is what parents should have but that does not mean it is automatic and it does not mean that you should simply settle for the easiest way to finish your case because when you do finish it, it will become very difficult to change your agreement or divorce judgment. For that reason, among others, you should be very alert as to what you are signing and what you may be agreeing to. You need an experienced divorce lawyer to help you find the terms that you should seek to have in your agreement or should seek if your case goes to trial.
When we get married, we never wish for a divorce. When we file for a divorce, we never wish for it to be hard. Unfortunately sometimes life does not go on as planned. While it may not go as planned, you can take control of your post divorce life now by hiring the right divorce lawyer for you that can help guide you through the many ups and downs that come with filing for divorce and post divorce issues. If you seek an experienced and compassionate divorce lawyer, contact us today in our Jersey City office on (201) 228-9815.