Children with Special Needs

While child support ends either when a child turns 18 years of age or when the child reaches the age of 19, provided that your child has not graduated high school by his or her 18th birthday – that is not necessarily the case when the parties have a child with special needs.  In addition, the issue of alimony or spousal support is also impacted when there is a special needs child.

At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. recognizes the complexity of divorces and paternity cases that involve special needs children.  New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. is sensitive to the unique challenges that couples face when seeking to preserve their children’s best interests.

Florida Statutes § 61.08 and § 61.13 set forth the statutory criteria for alimony and child support.  § 61.08 requires the Family Law Court consider the “responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common” and § 61.13 provides that “child support to terminate on a child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds or previously found that s. 743.07(2) applies, or is otherwise agreed to by the parties.”  § 743.07 (2)  states that this “section shall not prohibit any court of competent jurisdiction from requiring support for a dependent person beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because of a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such person reaching majority.”

New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. recognizes that managing the care of a child with special needs can often be a full- time job which obviously impacts how much income a custodial parent is capable of earning and using that parent’s needs when spousal maintenance is negotiated.

We make it our goal in cases with special needs children to create amicable solutions which are focused on addressing the child’s medical and educational needs while keeping in mind that any settlement agreement must be drafted in such a manner that care is given to what resources are needed as the child transitions from adolescence into adulthood.  These issues also vary based upon the severity of the child’s special needs which could include life-long care-giving.

In drafting settlement agreements where a special needs child is involved, New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. takes into consideration issues such as guardianship, government and private agency benefits, vocational skills, recreation, independent living, or custodial care.

It should be obvious that a special needs child has different physical and mental health care needs than other children.  The cost of these health care needs can be quite expensive and  must be taken into consideration as well.

Alimony and child support payments should take into consideration how they affect a special needs child’s eligibility for a variety of different benefits, not only a child but also as an adult.  New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. maintains professional relationships with all types of consultants and experts such financial advisors, vocational experts and social security attorneys who are used as necessary in order eliminate the risk of forfeiting the child’s entitlements.