Children are a blessing, and it takes special parents to raise a child with special needs. Children that are born with a disability or are in an accident later in life that causes them to have special needs can require more care and attention. While these circumstances can put a strain on a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the root cause of the marriage breaking up. Still, these circumstances have to be considered when it comes to child support for children with special needs in Texas. If you have a child with special needs and are considering a divorce, speaking with a Texas family law attorney near you familiar with similar cases can be helpful.

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Texas Child Support Rules

Typically, in Texas, when parents of a minor child divorce, the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent until the child is 18 or they graduate from high school. It depends on their birthday versus their graduation date. The law is set up this way as, at that point in their life, the child is no longer considered a child but is seen by the state as an adult. They are viewed as competent and able to provide for themselves. It’s not against the law for a parent to continue to provide support, but they are not required by law to do so. In most circumstances, no child support payments are made after this date to the other parent, and the child is able to live on their own or with either parent. However, when it comes to some children with special needs, the typical child support rules won’t apply.

What Happens With Special Needs Child Support If Your Child Is Underage?

In cases involving minor children, Texas courts prioritize the “best interest” of the children, a principle guiding child support determinations under the Texas Family Code. While the state’s child-support guidelines are designed to only consider what is in a child’s best interest, however, there are situations where deviations from these guidelines are necessary. One deviation from the typical guidelines is for children with special needs because these factors become even more crucial. Costs associated with caring for a child with special needs typically surpass the amount deemed appropriate under the standard child support guidelines. Additionally, the parent serving as the primary caregiver may face challenges in obtaining a steady income due to their caregiving responsibilities for their special needs child. This is primarily due to the fact that many children with special needs require treatments or services not covered by insurance. Therefore, the court may deem it necessary to order a parent of a special-needs child to pay support exceeding the standard guideline amount to adequately meet the child’s unique needs and ensure their well-being.


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Does Every Disability Qualify For Child Support Orders For Children With Special Needs?

In Texas, it’s typically decided on a case-by-case basis whether or not a child should be considered for extended child support based on whether or not they will be able to be fully self-sufficient and able to function on their own.  Special needs conditions that typically qualify for child support encompass a wide range of disabilities, that affect physical, cognitive, developmental, and emotional aspects.  These conditions often require ongoing care, supervision, and specialized services to support the individual’s well-being and functioning. As such, parents may seek child support to ensure that the necessary resources are available to meet the unique needs of their child with special needs to support their medical, emotional, and developmental needs properly. Texas courts will utilize the child’s medical and educational records to help them determine whether the child’s special needs will be considered in the calculation of child support. Common disabilities that qualify for special needs child support in Texas include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Sensory Impairments
  • Various health conditions

How Are Special Needs Child Support Payments Calculated in Texas?

As the circumstances surrounding special needs child support payments are different and can significantly impact a parent’s budget, it’s possible that, in some cases, a parent may be ordered to pay up to 100% of the necessary monetary support for the child. Costs considered in the calculation for child support in these situations include any expense related to the child’s care for their special needs.

Child support arrangements for children with special needs can be complex and emotionally charged issues that demand careful consideration. Whether a parent is seeking to request child support or has been asked to provide it, understanding their rights is important, and seeking immediate legal counsel, ideally from a special needs child custody attorney, is advisable.

How Much Does Texas Give For Special Needs Child Support?

Every child support case involves varying factors that are unique to their own specific situations. Therefore, there is no specific amount ordered to be paid if child support for special needs children is ordered by Texas courts. The court evaluates various factors to determine the appropriateness of special needs child support guidelines in such cases, taking into account the child’s:

  • Age
  • Specific needs
  • The parents’ financial capacity to support the child
  • Any extraordinary healthcare or educational expenses associated with the child’s special needs

If one parent holds primary physical custody or legal guardianship of an adult with special needs, the other parent may be legally obligated to provide child support. In cases where the child adult’s disability significantly impedes their ability to earn a living, the court can establish a requirement for ongoing financial support. However, this obligation only applies when the child’s disability predates their attainment of the age of majority. These legal arrangements are designed to ensure that individuals with special needs receive the essential support and care they need as they transition into adulthood. Contacting an Austin special needs child custody lawyer is often the most effective approach to maneuvering through the intricate legal landscape and securing the best outcome for the child’s well-being.

What Is the Maximum Age For Receiving Child Support In Texas?

In the state of Texas, child support for non-disabled children typically stops at age 18 or upon high school graduation, whichever comes later. This standard age cutoff ensures that financial obligations toward non-disabled children are met, but also recognizes that the child has reached adulthood. However, for children with special needs, the rules regarding child support extend beyond these conventional milestones. Support for children with special needs can continue beyond the age of 18 or high school graduation if they meet specific criteria, as outlined by Texas law.  As a result, parents of disabled children in Texas may find that their financial responsibilities will continue well beyond the typical cutoff points established for non-disabled children.

How Long Do You Pay Child Support For A Special Needs Child In Texas?

When a child with special needs reaches the age of majority, typically 18, parents face the challenging task of determining who will make important decisions on behalf of their child if warranted. Once a child turns 18, they are legally considered adults, meaning parents no longer have the authority to make legal, medical, or life decisions. However, if an adult child with special needs cannot live independently due to their disabilities the question of whether or not child support payments will continue is pertinent.

Under Texas law, parents can still seek child support for their adult children with special needs if certain conditions are met. Even after a special needs child turns 18, a court retains the authority to issue custody and support orders if it’s clear that the child:

  • Requires substantial care and supervision due to a physical or mental disability that existed before their 18th birthday
  • The child is unable to support themselves, and the disability necessitates ongoing care

If these instances are held to be true, child support may be ordered indefinitely by a Texas court. These court orders also determine each parent’s rights to continued custody and access to the adult child, ensuring that the child’s best interests are always protected.

Who Gets Adult Child Support Payments?

If a parent is ordered to pay adult child support for a child with special needs, they may not necessarily be making child support payments directly to the other parent. In some cases, they may send the child support to a trust account used for the child’s care and living expenses. In other cases, they may send the adult child support to the child themselves, such as if the child lives in a residential center that gives the child some independence but still offers some elements of care. For example, an adult with Down Syndrome who lives in a care home with a part-time job, friends, and more but still benefits from being in a residential center and is unable to take care of themselves on their own completely.

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Can Adult Child Support Impact My Retirement?

Due to the way that the courts determine adult child support payments, there can be worries about whether or not the parent will be able to continue supporting their child while also being able to save for their retirement. A judge can decide on adult child support payments keeping in mind the child’s financial needs due to their special needs, the parent’s financial resources to care for themselves now and into the future, if any financial resources are available to the child, and other factors.

Special Needs Child Support Groups In Austin

When navigating the complexities of divorce with a special needs child, including determining special needs child support in Austin, many parents seek legal support. However, equally important is seeking support from individuals who have gone through similar experiences or are presently grappling with similar challenges. Seeking a special needs child support group for divorcing parents can foster a network of understanding and shared support throughout this journey. Some special needs child support groups in Austin include:

  • Austin Special Needs Parents Online Support Group – Navigate Life Texas support group offers a vital online support community called Austin Special Needs, tailored for parents raising children with special needs in the Austin area. Through this platform, families access essential resources, share valuable information, and forge emotional connections, facilitating support networks for navigating challenges. From play dates and discussions to dedicated Mom’s and Dad’s night out events, Austin Special Needs fosters a supportive environment where families find solidarity, understanding, and a sense of community.
  • Divorce Journey Support for Moms of Children with Autism & Special Needs – This support group is a Facebook group designed to offer a safe haven for mothers facing the intricacies of divorce while caring for special needs children. With a focus on providing support and valuable information, this community aims to empower moms navigating the challenges of the divorce process to help them achieve the best outcomes for themselves and their special needs children. By joining this group, mothers can find solidarity and support amidst the unique complexities of balancing divorce and their special needs children.

Special Needs Custody Financial Advisors in Austin

Special needs custody lawyers handling cases in Austin involving special needs custody agreements maintain varying relationships with local financial professionals who can offer valuable assistance during divorce proceedings. Consulting with a special needs child custody financial advisor can prove to be very helpful in evaluating your financial capabilities and needs when determining the optimal course of action when creating a special needs child custody support agreement. By contacting a knowledgeable advisor, you gain insights into financial considerations specific to your circumstances, allowing you to make informed decisions that prioritize the well-being and support of your child amidst the complexities of a divorce.

Cost Of Living In Austin

The cost of living in Austin significantly impacts special needs child custody agreements due to its higher-than-average expenses. According to RentCafe, Austin, TX, surpasses both the state and national averages, with housing costs averaging 16% higher than the U.S. average, while utilities remain relatively more affordable, about 6% less expensive. Although groceries and clothing are slightly cheaper in Austin, with costs averaging around 2% less than the national average, healthcare services such as doctor check-ups and dentistry are notably pricier, with a 2% increase compared to the U.S. average. The elevated cost of living in Austin highlights the importance of carefully considering financial factors when determining special needs child custody arrangements. The cost of living in Austin can directly influence the resources available to each parent, and their ability to provide adequate support and care for the child’s unique needs within the Austin community. Therefore factoring in the cost of living in Austin is an important aspect of determining special needs child support.

Contact an Experienced Texas Special Needs Child Support Lawyer

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It can be vital to speak with a legal professional when you have questions about child support for children with special needs in Texas. When you contact Eric M. Willie Austin Divorce Lawyer, you’ll be speaking with an experienced team that understands what a stressful and challenging time in your life is and offers a compassionate response to your legal questions. Learn more about your options when you have a child with special needs and are considering a divorce by speaking with our team. These cases can get complicated which is why we recommend contacting a Texas special needs child custody attorney.

Reviews of Our Top-Rated Austin, Texas Special Needs Custody Attorneys

“This firm represented me in my divorce for almost a year and we won all of our hearings. Mr. Willie is an outstanding attorney who know the ins and outs of both family law and the court system. You couldn’t ask for a better lawyer. Highly recommend.” – Valorie Bravo

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