Any type of co-parenting relationship can be complicated, especially when the relationship ends in divorce. Divorcing parents of a special needs child, even one that has reached adulthood, may have questions about their rights and obligations as guardians when it comes to making decisions for a child with disabilities.

While laws may vary from state to state, the core of co-guardianship essentially comes down to the idea that the parents must work together on making decisions about their child’s care. Ideally, both guardians will agree on things such as living arrangements, medical treatments, and financial support. In situations where there is a dispute about these issues, seeking out the advice of an Santa Barbara special needs attorney and/or including a plan for the child’s care in the divorce decree will be helpful.

Allowing one parent to sign off on important decisions without having the other parent present can also be agreed upon as long as it’s done in good faith. This would eliminate the need for both parents or guardians to be present for the signing of documents. However, any disagreements on these decisions may require getting the court involved and allowing the judge to decide. One way to avoid this is to agree ahead of time that any conflicts will be managed by a third party such as a mediator, caseworker, or other relevant professional.

Handling the co-conservatorship of an adult child with special needs isn’t much different than dealing with custody issues involving minor children. The process is much easier if both parents or conservators will do their best to cooperate and agree to do what’s best for their child. Setting aside any personal differences will make the process much easier for everyone involved.

If you have an adult child with disabilities and you are struggling to find a way forward in managing his or her affairs with an ex-spouse, feel free to contact our Santa Barbara special needs lawyers at (805) 946-1550 to set up a consultation. We can help you work through all of your options and create a legal framework that works best for mom and dad while ensuring that your child’s future is secure.

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