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Child Support for Special Needs Children

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Families with special needs children face unique challenges. While raising the kids can be tough, adding divorce to the mix is even more stressful. Unfortunately, parents don’t realize the impact of disability on child support payments. Thankfully, child support lawyers West Chester PA help educate parents on these issues.

If you and your spouse are currently deliberating support for your special needs child, here are some things you need to know.

Determining Child Support for Special Needs Children

All children have needs that include shelter, food, clothing, education, health, and entertainment. With special needs children, however, there are usually additional expenses. Some of these extra costs include

  • Specialized medical care
  • Specialized vehicles and furniture
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Equipment
  • Special education
  • Occupational therapy
  • Special dietary care
  • In-home care

Therefore, it means that the traditional methods of determining child support may not be sufficient for special needs cases. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, the courts recognize these additional expenses when deciding a disabled child’s support payment. The expectation is that both parents must contribute to meet these needs to the best of their abilities.

Before deciding, judges and child support lawyers in West Chester, PA, will always consider the child’s present and future needs. Then, they’ll arrive at an appropriate figure for the child’s support.

How Ending Child Support Differ With Special Needs Children

Generally, Pennsylvania family law requires parents to financially support their children until they get to 18 or graduate high school. At this point, the kids are no longer minors and can make adult decisions. The law considers them old enough to vote, rent an apartment, and take student loans.

Therefore they may no longer require parental support. Some parents look forward to when their children attain maturity to end their child support obligation. However, parents with disabled kids may face a different scenario.

Firstly, disability affects mental and physical well-being, leaving adult children unable to make grown-up decisions or care for themselves. Secondly, it can hinder a person’s ability to get or maintain employment. Parents will have to continue supporting their adult children who are unemployable due to a disability.

Exceptions to the Rule

During the court process, the courts will try to determine the extent of the child’s disability by considering his limits. For instance, children with learning problems that don’t enable self-support or emancipation will require parental care into adulthood. Even when the adult child can only earn reduced wages, the parents may still have to supplement his income.

However, there are few exceptions to this rule. Firstly, if the disability doesn’t limit the child’s earning abilities, the parents are unlikely to continue paying support. Also, the courts may not enforce child support for adult children whose disabilities occurred in adulthood. Other forms of disability benefits may suffice for such a case.


The process of determining child support is usually different when the child is disabled. When drawing the support order, the court will consider all additional expenses that the custodial parent will have to make. Another unique aspect of child support for special needs kids is that the payments are likely to continue into adulthood.

If you’re a parent of a special needs child and you’re going through a divorce, you’ll need exceptional legal guidance. Schedule an appointment with one of the best child support lawyers in West Chester, PA, who can help you with your case.

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