Uncontested divorce can be challenging on several levels, including not having a solid support structure and unemployment. Add special needs children into the equation, and the parental stress can increase enormously. Once you have decided that you will file for an uncontested divorce there are some things you can do to prepare for a post divorce life with your special needs child.
You will find that you will need help along the way, so start right away with mapping out a support network. Asking for help is not always easy, but keep in mind you are doing this to help your child and to be a healthy parent for him/her. People to include in your network include: friends, family, church/temple members, neighbors, social workers, mental health professionals, support groups, online forums, social media groups and/or a divorce coach. If you are having difficulty getting your network started, ask someone you trust to help you start mapping one out.
Uncontested divorce can bring about severe financial changes. If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet you may want to consider having your child apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is a federal cash program which provides money for shelter, food and clothing. You can go to the SSI webpage and take a 5-10 minute preliminary questionnaire to let you know if your child possibly qualifies. The questionnaire will also let you know if your child may qualify for other benefits. Medicaid is another program which can help with your child's drug therapy, medical costs, institutional and home services.
When applying for survivor and retirement benefits, make sure you state that your child has special needs. Failure to do so may disqualify you from additional assistance.
3 Ring Notebook
This could end up being a life saver for you and your child. Your notebook should be accessible to at least one person you trust. Being able to hand over a guide in the form of a notebook to someone who you need to take over for you, whether it's short or long term, will be much appreciated. Here are some items to include in your notebook:
- Child's medications;
- Child's doctor's name, phone number and address;
- Frequently visited or preferred hospitals;
- Medical equipment used and detailed instructions on how to use it;
- Ongoing scheduled appointments (not only medical doctor, i.e. also therapist, tutor, etc.);
- Medical test results;
- Health insurance information;
- School information (School name, address, phone number, teacher's name, names of tutor)
- Information about public benefits your child may receive;
- Spouses contact information; and
- Child's calendar, including parent visitation times.
Make sure you keep your notebook updated. You can also find a computer or cloud-based software which will allow you to include the above information. Should you become ill, the last thing you want to do is start figuring out the above information for your child's caretaker. Consider having financial records, a legal will, health care directives, living will, marital settlement agreement and your life insurance policy easy accessible to a trusted person.
We would appreciate our readers adding more suggestions in the comments section below. Additional advice helping parents of special needs children would be most welcome.