For most children, medical needs include routine matters such as wellness checks, sports physicals, and the occasional sprain or broken bone. Some children, however, have ongoing medical needs or specialized medical needs that necessitate frequent doctor’s visits, therapy, and certain routine services performed at home by a parent or caregiver. When a special needs child or a child with a chronic health problem becomes the focus of a child custody matter, the stakes can be much different than for a well child.

Special needs or ongoing medical conditions might include deafness, blindness, traumatic brain injury, developmental disabilities such as autism or Down’s Syndrome, diabetes, asthma, ADHD and other behavioral health issues, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, speech or language impairments, and learning disabilities, including dyslexia. Depending on the severity of the impairment, it is often the case that a parent must perform certain medical or developmental services when the child is in his or her care.

As a result, if one parent has primarily and consistently performed these tasks, the child’s disability or medical condition may have a significant impact on any parenting plans that a court issues for the child. The other parent may need to undergo some degree of medical or healthcare training in order to be able to properly care for the child for more than a few hours at a time. It also is important that both parents maintain consistent medication schedules for the child, if medication is needed on a routine basis. Due to these special needs, a parent who is unwilling to learn to care for the child’s physical, developmental, or emotional needs may not be allowed to spend as much time with the child as he or she is requesting. Rather, the child may primarily reside with the parent who has traditionally cared for him or her and met necessary medical needs.

The child custody attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law know how to handle all aspects of Washington divorce and family law cases. Whether we able to resolve your case through alternative dispute resolution or must proceed to trial, we are here to help and give you the advice that you need. Contact our office by e-mailing us at [email protected] or call us at 1-509-581-4342 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced child support lawyers today.