The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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special needs, collaborative law, DuPage County Divorce AttorneyThe divorce process is challenging for any couple, and especially so for parents. However, parents of special needs children face even more complicated issues during divorce, as the impact to their child can be particular upsetting and stressful. Many parents with special needs children may often it preferable to keep divorce proceedings free from contentiousness and acrimony as much as possible by turning to collaborative law in an effort to negotiate the end to the marriage.

Countless articles and research papers have been written on the current divorce rate in the United States. While many suggest the rate is actually lower than the commonly accepted “half of all marriages end in divorce,” it is fairly difficult to establish for sure. Married parents of children with special needs, however, are far more likely to divorce. According to some estimates, couples with special needs children may face divorce rates of up to 90 percent.

Collaborative Law Can Help

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marital strain of autism, divorce rate, divorce trend, Illinois divorce lawyerParents helping a child cope with autism may feel the strain on their own relationship. Although much about autism is still unknown, research indicates that married couples might face higher rates of divorce when they have a child affected by autism.

A longitudinal study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was one of the first major projects to explore marital history of parents for those families with an autistic child. The study found that while parents of an autistic child don’t face a higher divorce rate while the child is young, adolescent children with autism were linked with higher numbers of divorced parents. Many of the marriages in the study ultimately did survive.

The study looked at 391 couples made up of parents of adolescent and adult children with autism, drawing data from the National Survey of Midlife in the United States. For younger children, the divorce rate for parents of autistic children was very similar to parents of disabled children, at least until the child reached the age of eight. At that point, the divorce rate for parents of disabled children starts to go down, but it actually increases for parents of autistic children.

Although many couples reported staying together throughout the challenges of raising an autistic child, the research does point to vulnerability for those marriage couples. The high demands of raising an autistic child at all ages can strain a relationship and lead to arguments. Autism is known as a condition that can vary dramatically between different individuals, meaning that many families have to adapt behaviors and strategies for helping their specific child. Little research has focused on best practices for raising autistic children, making it difficult for parents to work together and create their own approach. If you are struggling with your marriage and would like to discuss legal separation or divorce, contact an Illinois family lawyer today.
The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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