Divorce is difficult for both parents and children, but when a special needs child is involved, finding the best solution can be tricky. Families often rely on public programs for an array of medical and financial needs to properly care for their child with special needs. Without careful planning, divorce and the resulting court-sanctioned settlements may derail many such programs. This can cause unforeseen difficulties for both parents and the child.
Government benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid help families defray the increasing costs of caring for children with special needs. However, these benefits are subject to incomes derived by parents. Although a couple with a child with special needs may qualify for benefits while together, when divorced, child support and custody payments may cause complications. Divorcing parents need to consider such matters during the settlement process lest they find themselves unable to adequately care for their disabled child’s current and future needs.
Factors That Impact Eligibility for Special Needs Social Services
In considering eligible income for purposes of providing needed supplemental coverage, the value of a home, the direct income earned by parents, and certain investments may be used. In addition, the age of the child, the exact nature of the disability, and life insurance proceeds may impact the ability of a special needs child to receive public assistance.
A parent will want to avoid anything that may cut the child off from public benefits because obtaining these later may be more difficult.
Some of the ways to prevent disruption of benefits is to set up a special needs trust for the child. A trust will ensure that the benefits remain intact while the support is paid to a trustee rather than directly to the child. Take insurance for example. When parents divorce, a common practice is to remove the former spouse as a primary beneficiary and name the child. This can cause the child to have the policy counted as income. A trust can prevent this outcome.
Another factor to consider is the situation of social services rendered to one of the parents. Some parents may be receiving SSI themselves. If a child is under the age of 22 at the time the parent begins to receive Social Security payments, the child may be eligible to draw a payment which is separate and does not impact the parent’s income.
Cherry Hill Divorce Lawyers at the Law Offices of Richard C. Klein Help Protect Special Needs Children
Divorce is difficult and the laws related to providing for special needs children can make it more so. The New Jersey divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard C. Klein understand how to help clients protect their assets and the benefits provided to their children. If you have a special needs child, it will be in the interest of all involved to get in touch today, whether you are considering or already engaged in seeking a divorce. Contact us online or call now at 856-544-9155. We not only serve clients in Cherry Hill but also Mount Laurel, Maple Shade, Marlton, Moorestown, and throughout New Jersey.