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Divorce advice for parents of children with autism

Parents of special needs children in Louisiana may have extremely specific worries and concerns when divorce comes into the picture. Since April is Autism Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month, questions regarding this topic -- and the unique divorce challenges that accompany it -- certainly come to mind. For example, is it really true that 80 percent of Autism Spectrum Disorder families end in divorce?

The fact is, while parents of children with autism do face incredibly difficult challenges, this 80 percent divorce rate figure simply is not true. For example, one study from 2007 showed no difference in divorce rates between ASD and non-ASD families. Another smaller study conducted in 2010 showed a very slight increase in divorce rates, but it was nothing near the 80 percent figure. In this sense, divorcing parents can rest assured that they are not separating because of their child's ASD status.

Special needs parents can also rest assured that professional assistance is available to make the divorce process easier. Generally speaking, employing the services of a family therapist – preferably one who has already worked with the family -- can be immeasurably helpful to put together equitable parenting plans and child custody arrangements. Parents may also wish to consider creating a special needs trust. This kind of trust can provide for the health, education and other future needs of one's child. A special needs trust can also assist in getting one's child qualified for aid-based programs in the future.

Divorce is never easy when it involves children, no matter if that child has ASD or not. However, family law in Louisiana does have provisions for parents of special needs children. These laws are meant to help parents and protect their children. Therefore, they should be viewed as a positive rather than a negative. Most importantly, though, parents of special needs kids can know that they are not alone. Help is available should they wish to seek professional assistance in navigating their divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, "When Parents of a Child With Autism Divorce: Separating Myth From Reality" Bari Zell Weinberger, Apr. 04, 2014

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