Courts Can Order the Payment of Expenses for Special Needs Children

During a divorce or paternity action, parents of special needs children may feel forced or pressured to cut back on expenses related to the health and education of their special needs children. That should not be the case. California courts are required to order a parent to pay some or all of a special needs child’s reasonable uninsured health care costs. Further, courts have the discretion to order a parent to pay some or all of the costs related to a child’s special education needs.  Special needs children are generally those who are developmentally disabled including, but not limited to, children diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome or dyslexia; but also “gifted” children. Courts consider these expenses to be “additional child support” and they can be ordered in addition to basic (or “guideline”) child support. If a child develops special medical or education needs during a pending proceeding or even after a judgment has been entered, it may qualify as a basis to seek a modification of child support to compensate for the new expenses.