How to Support and Protect the Rights of Your Disabled Children During Divorce

Divorce is an unfortunate fact of life, and something which many of us will experience at some point in our lives. According to the ONS, over 100,000 divorces are granted in England and Wales each year. The breakdown of a union is not reserved for specific forms of family, and can impact households of any shape or size; in 2019-20, around 2.4 million families were recorded as separated, encompassing 3.6 million children.

Marriage is a complex subject, and not just from an emotional standpoint. There are monumental legal and civil considerations wrapped up in the joining of two lives, which can take a significant amount of time and money to unpick should divorce become an inevitability. Where vulnerable children with disabilities or special needs are involved, navigating divorce in a healthy, productive and beneficial way becomes vitally important – and safeguarding said children becomes a principal priority. 

Key Legal Considerations

Before touching on the important ways in which divorcing partners can safeguard their children during the divorce process, there are some crucial legal underpinnings to understand and account for. It is essential for parents to familiarise themselves with these legal frameworks, particularly where children with special needs are concerned. 

Consulting with an experienced family lawyer who specialises in this area is the most constructive route, as personal research can lead to some incorrect conclusion-making. There are two essential aspects to accounting for your disabled children in the legal side of divorce: parental agreements, and financial considerations.

Parental Agreements

Developing a comprehensive parental agreement is crucial for establish clear roles and responsibilities in the care and support of a disabled child. This agreement should encompass such matters as custody weighting, living situations, medical care responsibilities and structures for future decision-making, with stability and consistency an ideal outcome.

Financial Considerations

Financial planning is extremely important when it comes to supporting a disabled child, both during and after a divorce. As such, robust legal agreements need to be drawn up ensuring that a safety net is in place for the child’s needs; this can be subsidised by government subsidy and other resources, but research and planning must take place before these are relied upon.

Caring for Your Disabled Children During Divorce


However acrimonious divorce proceedings may be, open and honest communication between parents needs to be maintained for the betterment and well-being of their child. Regular discussions about the child’s evolving and progress can help ensure that both parents remain informed and involved in their child’s life.

Consistency and Routine

Whatever the nature of the child’s disability, consistency and routine are key during divorce proceedings. Regularity and routine can be a comfort for children with developmental disabilities, while physical needs can be better catered-to from a standpoint of consistent care and plan-making.

Support Networks 

Whether together or in separation, parents often cannot handle every last need for their children alone. The saying ‘it takes a village’ applies, and especially so when divorce is inevitable. Building a strong support network via family, friends, local support groups and national organisations can be hugely helpful in maintaining a high quality-of-life for children with disabilities. Court appearances and mediation sessions are much easier to focus on as well, where others can pick up the slack with the disabled child.


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