Family Law and Children with Autism

27-04-2022    |    Resource   |   Simone Thomas

The month of April marks World Autism Awareness Day.  For many families, separation and divorce can be made even more challenging when a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or any other special needs, is involved. 

ASD can vary from high range disability and non-functioning, through to very high-functioning, highly intelligent children, and as a result, children on the autism spectrum may require extra consideration in family law matters to ensure their health, wellbeing and lifestyle is not adversely impacted by parental separation.


Specific Considerations for Children with ASD

In a family law matter, it is important to remember that what works for a neurotypical child in terms of parenting arrangements post-separation, does not necessarily work for a child that has ASD.  Given the specific requirements of children on the spectrum, the Court may require additional evidence or professional opinions from experts such as psychologists or therapists to ensure that any decisions or agreements made between the parties are in the best interests of the child.

Structure and routine are good for all children, however parenting orders or a parenting plan that provides structure and routine in relation to how decisions concerning the child are made, including what days and times they are to spend with each parent, are particularly important for children who have ASD.  In some instances, the Court may rule against a 50-50 parenting arrangement for example if it believes that the handover between parents might be disruptive to the child’s development or special needs 

In addition, the need for parents to communicate regularly without hostility is important when maintaining a calm and stable environment for a child with special needs such as ASD and when discussing treatment options and medical issues.  In these situations, the Court will always endeavour to make orders that protect children from any conflict and ensure that they are receiving any treatment that is required.

In the family law system there is not a “one size fits all” approach.  Family Law solicitors, mediators and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia recognise that no one family is the same and the needs of an individual child should be considered when reaching a resolution of parenting matters.

At Lamrocks Solicitors, our family lawyers understand the unique needs of children with ASD.  We can advise you on what you need to consider when negotiating your post-separation parenting arrangements and assist you to reach an agreement with your former partner to ensure that parenting orders or a parenting plan is tailored to meet the special needs of your child/children.

To speak with one of our experienced family law team members, contact Lamrocks on 02 4731 5688.

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