A report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics indicates that the number of students receiving special education services in public schools is on the rise. These figures include kids with learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, and other health impairments. These figures don’t capture the kids that don’t or can’t even make it into the public school system. We have no reason to believe that the parents of these children divorce or live apart any less frequently than the other parents. However, much of our approach as lawyers may be geared to the families who do not face the added challenge of a child’s special needs. The cookie-cutter approach to arriving at a parenting time schedule won’t help and may be detrimental to a child with certain mental or physical health issues. The “standard” formula for child support may need adjustment to account for benefits available to the child. The parents may not agree on whether their child even has special needs. Is the parent who denies any disability neglectful? Is the parent who sees an impairment overprotective? More importantly, how can the legal system address the family situation? The goal of this issue is to give practitioners a starting point for representing parents in such cases.
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