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Creating a parenting plan for your special-needs child

Divorce is a tough process when you have children, but it can be even rockier if your youngster has special needs. October is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month, which allows us to bring an extra bit of attention to those parents who are trying to create a parenting plan for their special-needs youngsters. Statistics show that about 10 percent of kids ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Compare that to the skyrocketing divorce rates in many states -- including Florida -- and you may have a recipe for disaster if you do not proceed with caution.

Most children experience periods of time during which their behavior veers into the realm of "out of control." However, this is even more pronounced for children who suffer from ADHD. Difficulty focusing can make it hard for youngsters to truly understand the impact that divorce will have on their lives; and the constant activity level can put a strain on the adults who are orchestrating the split.

The decision to award physical or joint custody may be complicated by your child's special needs, which can definitely include ADHD. Courts will act in the best interests of the child, considering the youngster's temperament and the exact nature of the special needs. Parenting plans for ADHD kids will probably look different from those that do not involve children with the same condition.

Further, your divorce may also include additional child support requirements, depending on the severity of your child's special needs. If your youngster needs money for psychotherapy, tutoring, medication or special schools, those costs should be factored in to the payment plan. Consulting a qualified divorce team that includes therapists and other support staff can help special-needs families through these difficult times.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, "Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" Oct. 07, 2014

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