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FAMILY LAW... & MORE

How do courts address alimony for special needs children?

| Mar 11, 2021 | Alimony |

Your experience as a parent may involve caring for a child with special needs. This makes the subject of alimony a more critical one for you since your child requires special and more expensive care. You should know whether a court will give special weight to your circumstances.

Courts look at the various circumstances of a child to determine alimony. Fortunately, New Jersey law goes one step further and specifically instructs how a judge should award alimony to a parent who cares for a special needs child.

Longer alimony

The purpose of alimony is to help a parent continue to support a child in the absence of the other spouse as a provider. Once the child has progressed to adulthood or has acquired emancipation, alimony is no longer necessary. However, this is not the case for many special needs children since they cannot provide for themselves.

Depending on the condition, a special needs child may need financial support for the rest of his or her own life. As a result, New Jersey law states that a court may continue to award alimony even if a special needs child has reached legal age. This may change if the child can acquire enough financial resources to become independent or the child’s condition improves enough that he or she is no longer incapacitated.

Public benefits for a child

Your court’s involvement may go further than awarding a longer period of alimony. Your child may be eligible for certain government benefits like Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. These services might affect how much your paying parent will provide.

In addition, a court might hand down other orders to help support your child’s well-being. For instance, a judge may determine that your child should have a trust to fund services and care. Creating a special needs trust may help since it can provide for your child after your death and keep your child’s income from exceeding thresholds for government services.