Over 30 years of experience in divorce & family law

Special Needs Children & Divorce

What are some important considerations in determining the primary residence of a Special Needs Child in a divorce?

Based on my experience the first stage in any case dealing with a special needs child in a divorce case is determining the extent of the child’s special needs or disability. Then an in-depth assessment of parental roles should be undertaken. Ideally, the following issues should be explored during the initial assessment of any custodial conflict involving a special needs child:

  1. What steps were taken by each parent to obtain the initial special needs diagnosis?
  2. Was there acceptance or resistance to that initial diagnosis by either parent?
  3. Was there any delay in obtaining services or treatment for the child?
  4. Have both parents been diligently following and reinforcing medical or behavioral recommendations?
  5. How much parental education has each parent obtained?
  6. Which parent devotes more time and energy to advocating for the child?

After I am retained as counsel, an in-depth review of all of the issues affecting the child is performed so that the Court can have a clear picture of the child’s special needs.

A litigated divorce or Family Court case concerning a special needs child may be unavoidable where parents disagree on how to care for the special needs child. The New York Courts have not developed uniform guidelines for determining child custody and related issues in cases involving a special needs child.

A background in this area is critical for the attorney handling a case involving a special needs child. I have 33 years of experience as a marital and family lawyer. I also have a master’s degree in social work. During my master’s program, I worked with children on the Autism spectrum, ages 6 through 21. My background and training have been invaluable in the representation of clients with special needs children. I understand the issues in raising a special needs child from a parental perspective. I understand the long-term view that is necessary in such cases. I know the uncertainty and pressures that parents face in these difficult situations.

I can help you address and navigate through the specialized concerns of your special needs child in a divorce case.

Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq., a Long Island divorce and family law attorney, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290.

My Nassau County office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall Ring Road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, New York 11530.

The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.


This is attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.