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A child custody arrangement is already a difficult matter to rule on. But the matter may become all the more complex when a child with special needs is the subject of concern. Follow along to find out how a family court makes a custody decision for a special needs child and how a proficient Bergen County child custody attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can help ensure this decision is ideal for you and your child.

How does a New Jersey family court make a custody decision for a special needs child?

Overall, the New Jersey family court will make a custody decision based on what is in the best interest of the child. This is especially the case if the child in question has special needs. This is because the responsibilities that come with parenting a special needs child may be more intensive and overall call for a unique setup.

For example, a special needs child may need to stay home with caretakers who assist in daily activities or educators who administer a homeschooling program. Or, they may need to be taken to frequent visits to doctors, therapists, or any other medical professionals.

In both of these scenarios, the active presence and supervision of a parent may be necessary. Therefore, the family court may be more inclined to grant primary physical custody to a parent who has a more flexible work schedule. Even so, the court may still award joint legal custody over the special needs child. This is so both parents can have an equal say in decisions that significantly impact their child’s life, such as decisions concerning their healthcare or otherwise special needs care.

What other factors does a New Jersey family court take into consideration?

Of note, the New Jersey family court will look at more than just the parents’ careers, work schedules, etc. when making a custody decision for a special needs child. That is, it may also take the following factors into deep consideration:

  • The parent who served as the primary caregiver over the special needs child during the marriage.
  • The support that each parent exhibits for the special needs child’s care plans, education plans, treatment plans, etc.
  • Each parent’s maturity to take on the responsibility of caring for a special needs child.
  • Each parent’s mental strength to handle the stress that comes with caring for a special needs child.
  • Each parent’s primary residence and its proximity to the special needs child’s school, healthcare offices, etc.

In a case such as this, the court may even go as far as hearing testimonies made by the special needs child’s educators, doctors, therapists, etc. Such important individuals in the child’s life may offer great insight into what custody arrangement would best suit their needs.

At the end of the day, you must not stand idly by when decisions are being made about your child. Rather, you must take immediate action and retain the services of a talented Bergen County family law attorney. Contact McNerney & McAuliffe today.

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