Having a child with special needs means that your family has to approach many common situations differently than other families would. Divorce and shared custody can be particularly difficult for a child with special needs and their siblings. There are all the usual stressors to consider, as well as the impact of your child’s special needs.
If you are the parent of multiple children and are considering divorce or splitting up from the other parent of your children and you have one child with special needs, split custody could be a workable solution for your family circumstances.
When people talk about two parents sharing parental responsibilities, they call that joint or shared custody. Split custody is a specific kind of shared custody. It involves different children in the family staying with different parents at different times. For example, the boys may stay full-time with dad and only visit mom, while the girls primarily live with her and visit their father.
In a family that includes a child with special needs, split custody could be an optimal shared custody arrangement. One parent could assume primary responsibility for the child with special needs while the other assumes primary custody of the other children. They may then occasionally exchange parental responsibilities or even arrange for the children to all get together as a group for sibling time.
This arrangement works well for several reasons. The first is that it allows the parents to meet the needs of their child with special needs without compromising the quality of life for the other children in the family. The second is that it can minimize financial support obligations while maximizing the practical involvement of both parents. Finally, it can lead to an easier transition for the child with special needs in your family.
There is no custody solution that works 100% of the time. Many families have to come up with unique solutions for the needs of their children.
Considering various different solutions can help you create a custody solution that upholds the best interests of all the children in your family, including your child with special needs.