Child support issues during a divorce or separation can be emotionally charged and frustrating. It can be even more difficult if you have a special-needs child who will be financially dependent upon you for life.
Generally, child support is ordered by the court to help provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, medical care and education. It is generally calculated using the California Guideline Child Support Calculator. It is important to understand that these guidelines don’t take into account additional and necessary expenses in raising a special-needs child. In many cases the typical child support ordered may not be enough to provide for the basic needs of a disabled child.
California family law specifies that both the father and mother have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the best of their ability, a child regardless of age, who is unable to earn a living due to a disability. If you have questions about child support for a child with special needs, consult with a family law attorney who represents parents in contested child custody cases.
Age of Majority and Disabled Adult Children
In California, the age of majority, or the age at which an individual is legally considered an adult, is when he or she reaches 18 years of age. Fortunately, there is an exception to the rule for disabled children. If the child is mentally or physically disabled and unable to support himself or herself upon reaching the age of majority, California has adopted the rule that parents have a duty to support their adult disabled children.
Additionally, a disabled child who cannot self-support due to their disability may require care into adulthood or for a lifetime. The family court may order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child throughout life. These are considerations that should be discussed with a family law attorney who can give you advice based on your specific family circumstances.
What Family Courts Define as a Disability
In California, family courts are concerned with the inability of the adult disabled child to adequately care for himself or herself by earning a living because of mental or physical capacity.
Additionally, the family court is allowed to order additional child support for the medical, educational and other special needs of a disabled child whether it be short-term or lifelong.
Adult children with special needs can also have special lifelong expenses. Additional costs associated with raising a special-needs child include specialized medical care such as psychological and psychiatric treatment, medication, medical equipment, physical therapy, occupational or speech therapy and other considerations related to maintenance of the disability.
In giving an award for child support, California family law weighs the needs of the child as balanced by each parent’s ability to provide financial support. The child support can be modified as financial circumstances change or if the child’s disability requires modification of the order.
If you have a child with special needs it is important to speak with an experienced child support attorney familiar with California child support law for disabled adult children. To schedule your free consultation call us at (916) 250-1610 Monday through Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM.