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Palm Harbor, Florida Family Law Blog

Put your special needs child first in your divorce

If you have a special needs child and are in the process of divorcing your spouse, you may be feeling as if you have taken on more than you can bear. Separations are never easy, and when there are fragile kids in the mix, it can make everything seem more stressful and challenging. You try to do everything possible to get what you want out of your divorce, but some of your desires may conflict with your child’s needs. 

Before you give up and agree to anything that your soon-to-be ex-spouse puts on the table, get some help. You do not have to go through this situation alone. Besides seeking guidance from a financial expert, you may want to see a therapist to help protect you and your child’s mental health. Here are a couple of considerations for you to keep in mind about divorcing with a special needs child

Florida adoption: Adopting a child with special needs

There are many special needs children waiting to be adopted. Adoption in Florida encompasses all children looking for loving, nurturing homes. In fact, in the United States alone, more than 110,000 children with special needs are on the list for permanent homes.

Typically, children who have special needs are harder to place with adoptive families. However, families willing to provide the extra care and attention these children need have found that they are wonderful additions to their families. In the adoption process, " special needs" can mean a number of things and that classification can vary in each state.

Child custody and parenting of special needs children in divorce

Florida couples in the throes of divorce may agree that it is a stressful time with many challenging decisions to be made. Child-related issues can complicate matters considerably, and if there is a special needs child, all aspects of child custody and parenting will require extra careful consideration by both parents. Parents of special needs children might have to face potential life-long co-parenting.

In such situations, joint decision-making with relation to education and health care will require more in-depth and frequent communication between parents. Most decisions will also demand the input of professionals in various fields, and if the child is part of a special care education facility, participation in meetings will be expected from both parents. Collaborating with education, therapeutic and healthcare professionals will be time-consuming activities that will have to be worked into parenting plans.

Why and how to establish paternity in Florida for a child

A child often gets his or her sense of self from those closest to him or her. If a child is uncertain as to who his or her father may be, this can have a detrimental effect on one's self perception. This is just one reason why it may benefit all of the parties involved when attempting to prove paternity in the state of Florida.

When a child is born, there is no doubt as to who is the mother of that child. Unless a mother is proved to be an unfit parent, she will likely never face any challenges to her role in her child's life. However the same cannot be said for the father -- especially if the parents were unmarried at the time of the child's birth. There are many good reasons why a man would want to provide proof that he is the biological or legal parent of the child in question. The first reason may be to have his name listed on the birth certificate.

Shared child custody being encouraged in several states

At one time, when a couple divorced, it meant that a bitter fight over who got custody of the kids was about to ensue. In many cases in Florida, as well as in other states, the mother was often given custody by default unless she could be proven unfit. This is no longer the case. In fact, more and more states are encouraging shared child custody in divorce cases, with a few states even making it a law.

In several states at this time, there are bills on the table that would make it mandatory for a judge to give joint custody in a divorce by default. Some are frightened by these bills, stating that they would cause abusive parents to have a better chance of having access to their children. These bills each have a fail safe for this issue, however. The default judgment would not apply in cases where abuse or neglect has already been suspected.

Potential parents considering adoption later in life

At one time in history, adopting a child was a very regulated process. In most cases, in order to be considered for adoption, one had to have a spouse, had to be the same race as the child, had to have a certain income, and it all needed to be done before a certain age. That is no longer the case. Now, there are more and more single, mixed-race, middle-class potential adoptive parents than ever before in Florida and other states. And many of them are much older than expected.

Part of the reason for this may be the fact that women are now more likely to pursue careers before having children. A woman may wake up one day and realize that while she was busy chasing her chosen occupation, she put off her dreams of a family for a bit too long. In many of these cases, the woman may choose adoption.

Ex-wife cannot recover divorce court costs from current wife

According to an appeals court from another state, an ex-wife will not be allowed to recover court costs from her ex-husband's new wife. The ruling comes from an attempt on the part of the ex-wife to collect legal fees from another ruling of their divorce. She was trying to force the new wife to pay her husband's past-due alimony. Divorce and alimony cases are heard daily in Florida.

According to the report. the ex-wife had asked the court to reconsider its earlier decision on the case. Her suit had previously been dismissed by the court, which said that the ex-husband's new wife could not be forced to pay legal fees and costs to the ex-wife. The court of appeals was presided over by a panel of three judges.

Divorcing your spouse when you have a special needs child

While you are making plans to divorce your spouse in Florida, do not forget to take your special needs child into consideration. Ideally, you and your child's other parent should cooperate to make the situation as uneventful and less stressful on your kid as possible. However, you may have trouble communicating with each other without conflict because of the fear, uncertainty and changes you are experiencing. 

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse do not plan your situation with your child’s special needs in mind, your actions could hurt his or her quality of life. Here are some things you should keep in mind while going through a divorce with a special needs child

American families look to foster children for adoption choice

According to a recent report, more and more American families are choosing to make foster kids a permanent part of their families. When it comes time to make a decision about adoption, more parents are looking at the option of allowing foster children into their homes. There are many of these children in Florida looking for somewhere to grow roots and spread wings.

Nielson recently conducted a national survey on the subject for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. In that survey, it was determined that a quarter of people who have not yet adopted children in America have considered the option. Of those people, almost 80 percent felt that adopting foster children was a good idea. That percentage is at an all-time high for the country.

Be careful of nesting for child custody

In recent years, parents have become more and more aware of the effects that a divorce will have on their children. With this awareness comes new ways to try and cushion the blow, such as nesting. Nesting is when the children keep the family home, and the parents both move out, taking turns staying with the children in the home. But Florida parents may want to proceed cautiously if choosing this method of child custody.

The divorce of parents is almost always traumatic to their children. Perhaps one of the most painful aspects of it is the fact that the kids feel that they can only live with one parent now, and they are shipped back and forth between residences. School books, laptops, clothes, everything has to be packed and moved every weekend, during the summer and on holidays. It can be very confusing and burdensome to the child. Because of this, nesting may seem like a good plan.

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