In divorce and family law matters where custody of children is litigated, it can often present a unique set of complexities for a family court. Family court judges might start with default parenting plans or custody schedules in mind. In many cases, they might start with these schedules in most of they cases.

What this can often result in is a one-size fits all approach to child custody matters. In some courts, courts might start with a general presumption of shared parenting. Other courts might still start with a presumption of a child predominately living in one home over the other.

Decisions for the children can often be a big issue in many divorce matters. Courts can often address them with certain general presumptions in terms of how these matters are handled. They might assume that what works in one case will work in others.

But when there are exceptional children involved, one-size fits all approaches are often not what is needed. There are many divorce and family law matters where children have special needs. These special needs are often not met by what happens in most cases in the family court. The special needs can range from physical disabilities to other disorders from ADHD, ADD, anxiety, autism, Down syndrome and an unlimited range of other possibilities.

This is a circumstance where the collaborative process can sometimes better address the needs of the children. In a collaborative divorce or family law matter, a child custody professional can be utilized. A child custody professional is somebody in the mental health field who has experience working with the needs of children, including where the children have special needs.

A child custody professional can often meet with the parties in-depth to discuss their concerns. They can also speak to doctors, teachers and others with relevant information. In addition, they can review all these records and coordinate assessments that may need to take place to determine what is in the best interests of the chid.

This can allow for unique solutions to be talked about and considered in the resolution of the case. This is unlike a traditional litigation setting where the family court might not see these situations every day. They also might not have the time and background to know what is best in these types of circumstances.

It is true that in traditional litigation a guardian ad litem is often used to help assist with the best interests of the children. But the reality is that guardian ad litems are typically just attorneys. While they do have some training to help investigate what is in the best interests of the children, unlike child custody professionals, they are not mental health professionals who are used to working with children with disabilities in a clinical sense.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter where there are children with special education needs, the collaborative process can assist. A child custody professional can be uniquely situated to help ensure that the needs of these exceptional children are appropriately addressed.