As readers of this Mobile, Alabama, blog probably recognize, our law firm frequently assists children who have special educational needs. These needs may require that the child attend a particular school and have access to particular services both during the school day and on their own time.

These services are important to a child’s well-being and will continue to be so should the child’s parents go through a divorce or separation. As such, the child’s special needs and the services he or she is receiving for them should be part of the court’s deliberation when deciding what is in the child’s best interest.

As many Alabama residents may already know, courts in this state are supposed to make custody and parenting time orders that serve the child’s best interest. So, the bottom line is that a child’s special needs, and how each parent responds to them, can really make a difference in a custody decision.

Like the courts of other states, Alabama courts will examine a number of factors when deciding the best interest of a child whose parents are splitting up. These factors can include things like whether the child will be able to continue to receive the educational services he or she needs on a consistent basis. Additionally, whether and to what extent a parent can help a child who has special educational needs is also a consideration.

To give a very general illustration, a court may be hesitant to require a child with special needs to change schools, particularly if the change will happen mid-year or will mean the child gets access to fewer resources. A court may also consider which parent is better informed about the child’s needs or has the flexibility to make sure the child gets appropriate treatment for them.

Every case is somewhat different, and so detailed questions about the custody of a child with special needs should be addressed to an experienced family law attorney.