Parents of a child who has a disability or special needs frequently face a number of challenges in providing for their child’s needs. Raising a special needs or disabled child can cause serious psychological and emotional strain on the parents’ relationship with one another, and divorce is not uncommon for couples in such a situation. Identifying and protecting the child’s best interests can be very complex, and it can be difficult to develop an appropriate parenting arrangement. Depending on your situation, however, and the level of your child’s disability, your legal responsibilities regarding your child could continue even after his or her 18th birthday. You may be even be required to make support payments, despite the child reaching adulthood.
Definition of “Disabled”
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a disabled person is one “who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” In order for your child to qualify for non-minor support payments, he or she must have been diagnosed or found to have the disability while he or she was eligible for regular child support or support for college expenses. This means that if your child acquires a disability after he or she graduated from college, turned 25, and moved out of your house, non-minor support will not be available for him or her.
Factors for Consideration
One or both parents could be ordered to provide financial support for their physically or mentally disabled child. If a parent is deceased, the court could set aside a portion of the deceased parent’s estate for the same purpose. When deciding whether such support is necessary, the court will consider:
- Each parent’s current and expected financial resources, including retirement savings;
- Each parent’s current and expected needs;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended;
- The child’s needs, and financial resources, including government aid and assistance programs such as Social Security Income.
Support payments for the disabled adult child may be made to one parent if he or she is the child’s primary custodian or to a trust created for the child’s benefit. An order for non-minor support can be reviewed and modified at a later date should the need arise.
Get Help for Your Child
If you are the parent of a mentally or physically disabled child, you need to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney to discuss your situation and explore your available options. Call 630-377-7770 for your free, confidential consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.