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Special-Needs Children and New Jersey Divorce

New Jersey family law judges are being encouraged to adopt specific guidelines for awarding child custody in cases involving autism.

The New Jersey Law Journal reports this month judges are being encourage to employ the criteria when determining custody of autistic children under New Jersey Law (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4). The criteria include each parent’s role in diagnosis of autism, as well as parental roles in intervention and therapy. The court is also urged to consider the importance of early, intense intervention, and each parent’s wiliness to be involved, as well as their ability to handle the stress of dealing with an autistic child.

Experienced family law firms in Monmouth County know ensuring the medical and financial wellbeing of a child with special needs takes a comprehensive approach. While the court’s consideration of such additional factors might sound like common sense, they illustrate the increasing complexity of parenting a child with special needs through separation and divorce.

Autism and Child Custody in New Jersey

Nationwide, 13 percent of children have special needs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. About 7 million school-aged children have special needs, and those numbers continue to rise.

The continued rise in autism diagnoses has been a primary contributing factor.

Autism continues to be diagnosed in a record number of cases, now involving 1 in 59 children born in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The symptoms, limitations and treatment needs of a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can vary widely, ranging from intensive tutoring to around-the-clock supervision and medical care.

Developing a comprehensive parenting plan is always critical in cases of New Jersey divorce involving minor children. But such plans are even more critical when a child with special needs is involved. Lack of parental cooperation can threaten a child’s fundamental progress and development, and may lead to delayed behavioral improvement or setbacks in mainstreaming and independent functioning.

From a financial standpoint, caring for a child with special needs can be financially ruinous. CNBC recently reported that two-thirds of people who filed for bankruptcy cited medical debt as a contributing factor.

Ensuring a child’s developmental and medical needs are met are always factors of primary importance. Determining a fair and equitable way to guarantee those needs are met over the long term offers both parents and child invaluable peace of mind. While each divorce is unique, in some cases establishing a special-needs trust may be among the best options and we can guide you through that process. Experienced Monmouth County family law lawyers can provide you with the best way forward in your particular situation and can help protect your child’s future.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.

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