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How is custody of special needs kids determined?

If you are fighting for custody of your special-needs child, your case is necessarily more complex and nuanced than many child custody situations. The factors that a judge would ordinarily consider when determining a custody situation are increased to accommodate the special needs of the child.

There are no one-size-fits-all custody arrangements for special-needs children. Even children who are diagnosed with the same disabling condition have variations unique to their diagnoses and circumstances. For instance, suppose you have an autistic child. Since autism is diagnosed on a spectrum, that could mean anything from a high-functioning child with Asperger's syndrome to a non-verbal tween who still needs to be diapered.

Obviously, the level of care and supervision for the latter child would be far higher. Not all parents are prepared emotionally, physically or financially to manage such a responsibility.

The parent seeking custody of the special-needs child must have a good understanding of their child's disability and needs. They also must live in a home that can accommodate the adaptive equipment needed by the child for their daily activities.

Sometimes, in determining custody of special needs children, the court will look to outside sources for feedback and information. In addition to communicating with the parents and the child (if that is possible), the court might seek input from physicians or health care attendants who are familiar with the child and their special needs. The court might also reach out to the child's teacher or social worker to determine whether the child's needs are being met in their current placement.

The court could also order a home visit to ascertain whether the proposed home has all that it needs to be fit for the child.

Parents of special-needs children also need to realistically evaluate the time they have available to provide care for their kids. If either is a nurse or factory worker whose schedules include swing shifts and lots of unexpected overtime, they might not have the time they need to provide the level of care and supervision that their children demand.

Your Atlanta family law attorney can review your case and recommend a strategy to help you pursue custody of your special needs child.

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