parent and special needs child

During any separation or divorce where a child is involved, the situation can be complex and emotional. The calculation of child support is dependent on multiple factors. When the child has any variety of special needs, child support will be adjusted to consider extra expenses associated with their specific situation. For more information and to acquire sound legal advice, reach out to a Sparta child support attorney.

How is Child Support Calculated?

A court needs to evaluate a multitude of factors when calculating child support. The amount that they land on should be fair for all parties involved. This means that there should be enough money for the custodial parent to be financially supported when caring for the child and their various needs, but not so much money that the paying parent is unable to maintain their standard of living. Parental financial support is typically decided based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. The percentage will be determined by the court after evaluating:

  • The income of both parents
  • The expenses and debts of both parents
  • How many children the parents share
  • The child’s educational needs
  • The child’s medical needs
  • The child’s general expenses including food, clothing, childcare, etc.

What Special Needs Are Considered When Deciding Child Support?

As discussed, a variety of factors are considered when determining how much a non-custodial parent will pay each month. One of the most important factors is the cost of the child’s expenses for healthcare, education, extracurricular activities, etc. Children with special needs may have more expenses. Some special needs that are considered by a court when calculating child support can include the following.

  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing impairment
  • Learning disabilities
  • Dyslexia
  • ADHD
  • Speech and language impairments
  • Other mental or physical disabilities

Depending on the child’s specific situation, medical and educational costs may be significantly more expensive. They may require enrollment at particular schools, additional tutoring, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, speech therapy, and more. Any of these special needs can cause child support payments to be of a higher cost or frequency.

When Does Child Support End for a Special Needs Child?

In New Jersey, a non-custodial parent’s legal obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child turns 19 years old. However, payments may be extended due to numerous factors, one being the child’s disability status. For a child with a disability, special needs, or who is still in high school, payments can last until they are 23 years of age.

After a child with special needs turns 23 they are considered emancipated by the state of New Jersey. However, financial support may still be required. Child support payments may end but instead, financial maintenance duties may be required.

Financial support duties are similar to child support in that they can come in the form of monthly payments. The use of the money may change as the child is now an adult. There is no specific length of time or age where financial maintenance will automatically expire. To be released from their financial responsibility a parent would have to file a motion with a court to end them.