“How Does A Family Law Judge Handle Visitation With A Disabled Child?”

In normal custody situations, California courts try to give general schedules, but encourage both parties to use their discretion in making changes. This can be very different with children with disabilities, however. Many times there are medical issues which must be taken care of on schedule, and the court can order a visitation schedule that resolves around this. If one parent is failing to give the proper care, the court can make fairly drastic orders to protect the child.

A harder issue is when a child has been diagnosed as falling along the Autism Spectrum. In these cases, having a set schedule, predictable routines, and very consistent behavior plan in BOTH homes is very important. The court will actually get involved to the point of ordering both parties to meet with counselors or mental health professionals and agree on a schedule to follow. The principle that each parent can run their own home as they please tends to go out the window, because this is such an important issue.

If one parent proves unwilling or unable to follow the recommendations and schedule, the court can again change custody or visitation to give the parent who follows the schedule more time.

If there is a disagreement about the proper care or routine, the judge will almost always follow the recommendations of the professionals, and IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) are often used as a basis for orders.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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