The unfortunate truth is that there is an elevated risk of divorce among married couples who have children with special needs. Divorce happens. However, it is little understood that Florida law provides a legal basis to obtain child support for your special needs child beyond the age of 18. In fact, when appropriately addressed during dissolution proceedings, child support may be ordered to be paid for the lifetime of the disabled child.
If you have a child with disabilities, then there is nothing preventing the divorce Court from ordering child support payments beyond your child’s age of 18. Under these circumstances, your child must be seen as a dependent, so that he or she will never become a self-supporting adult due to his or her mental or physical incapacity. Under Florida law, the mental or physical incapacity must have begun prior to the turning of age 18. And, it is imperative that the appropriate findings are brought to the attention to the Court, so that such decrees for child support are written into the final paperwork. This must occur before your child with special needs turns 18, when child support otherwise terminates under Florida law.
Your choice of a knowledgeable Marital Law attorney is essential to making the necessary arguments for child support to be paid beyond age 18 for your child with special needs. It is also critical that you take measures to protect the future, ongoing payments of your hard-won child support from harming other essential benefits for your disabled child. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be diminished or altogether eliminated by the child support payment. Yet, by working with a qualified special needs planning lawyer, and through the implementation of a special needs trust, the best of both worlds may be preserved. Child support can be paid, and even accumulated, while your child with special needs also receives an SSI benefit, as well as other benefits such as Florida Medicaid health insurance, and Medicaid waiver supports and services.
Emma Hemness has special skills and knowledge in the field of special needs law and special needs legal planning. Ms. Hemness is available to consult with Marital Law attorneys in the Tampa area where child support determinations for special needs children are at issue. She can also provide the legal mechanisms for the court-ordered child support, protecting the future benefits for the disabled child.