Autism and Divorce
People consult a Provo divorce lawyer to gather more information when they feel that their relationship is beyond repair. For some, the decision to divorce brings added challenges since they are parenting a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.
As far back as 2010, national headlines screamed about a study that had been published, suggesting that parents who had a child with an ASD could be up to 80 percent more likely to file for divorce than families who were not affected by ASD. Families with Autism were understandably concerned, and searched for the best answers to this seeming epidemic. This alarming statistic became one of the more commonly quoted proofs that ASD families were in deep trouble, and in some cases became a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Happily, there were several flaws to the study, and subsequent research has disproven this alarmingly high rate of divorce in ASD families. Current data suggests that there is a slightly higher risk for divorce in families affected by ASD, but only a modest increase of a few percentage points higher than for families without a child with an ASD.
What your Provo divorce attorney can do if you are divorcing and have a child with an ASD
Since the number of children being identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is about 1 for every 59 children according to the CDC, the latest information about the prevalence of divorce in ASD families is good news. While only slightly elevated, these families face different challenges. It is important to make sure that if you are filing for divorce, that your divorce attorney is experienced in helping families with a special needs child, including parenting time, support orders, guardianship, and setting up a special needs trust if necessary.
Your family lawyer should have experience with parenting plans and support that reflect the unique challenges encountered with a child with an ASD. Since the range of disability on the spectrum varies greatly, you should make sure that all aspects of parenting a child with Autism are addressed by your parenting plan.
Your attorney may advise a periodic review of the decree to make sure that a modification is not necessary. Some might consider this a way for the divorce lawyer to continue to drum up business, but as your child’s needs change, there may be a need for modification of your orders. Support past the age of majority, requiring medical assistance, and setting up a special needs trust are all options which can be discussed by your lawyer. Being as flexible as possible and using effective co-parenting techniques is important for all families, but for those with special needs, it is critical.