by Carrie E. Campbell, J.D.
According to the Texas Family Code, a child with special needs is any child that requires "substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability," and as such, will not be able to be self supporting. The Family Code contains provisions specifically applicable in cases with children with special needs, including paternity, divorce, or modifications. These provisions allow a judge to order additional child support beyond the legislative guideline amounts and beyond the age of 18. In addition, greater consideration will be given to issues of structure and consistency between homes in determining custody, possession, and visitation. Other important issues for consideration include respective authority between the parents in making educational and medical decisions.
A child with special needs may also be eligible for governmental benefits, depending upon the degree of disability and the family’s financial resources available to the child. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides a monthly payment to assist with living and medical expenses. Most often, the Social Security Administration will take several months to make a determination of "disability." However, benefits are immediately made available to financially eligible children who live with (1) HIV infection, (2) total blindness, (3) total deafness, (4) Cerebral Palsy, (5) Down’s Syndrome, (6) Muscular Dystrophy, (7) severe mental retardation, or (8) birth weight below two pounds, ten ounces. Additional services and assistance are available through the Department of Disability and Aging Services (DADS) and the Mental Retardation Authority, even if a child with special needs does not qualify for SSI or Medicaid.
For more information about legal issues affecting children with special needs, you should consult with an attorney of your choice.
If you would like to speak to one of the attorneys at Mounger and Campbell, LLC about this or any other legal topic, you may ask us to contact you or call 512-847-1308.