Autism families require an enhanced level of support, advice and crucially understanding. Regretfully, there are instances when a family’s needs are not correctly understood.
Take the case where the solicitor acting for the parent with care of the parties Autistic child fails to understand the significance of the child’s needs and the impact this has on their own client’s ability to work in the future. As such an order of the court is made preventing their client from being able to secure spousal maintenance from their former spouse in the future. This order is often referred to as a clean break order.
Regretfully, the child’s needs become greater and the parent with whom the child lives is forced to give up work to become a full time carer. However, they are unable to seek spousal maintenance from their former spouse and the income derived from state benefits is insufficient to pay their mortgage and their bills and in consequence they are forced to sell their home. This drastic change further impacts negatively on the child concerned.
Had greater care and attention been taken by the solicitor in truly understanding the child’s needs and the significance of the child’s diagnosis then they are likely to have successfully reserved their client’s income claims against their former spouse. This would have enabled them to consider pursuing a claim for maintenance for the parent with care, often described as ‘spousal maintenance’ which if successful could have provided that parent with sufficient income to meet their mortgage payments and monthly bills thereby negating the need for the child’s home to be sold.
Take the case where the evidence before the court supports a sale of the former family home. However, it is essential for the wellbeing of the children concerned (where there is an Autism diagnosis) that the former family home is retained for the children. Regretfully, in consequence of the solicitor concerned failing to understand the significance and importance of this unique condition and the importance of securing the family home to meet the family’s needs, the court orders that the family home must be sold.
Had the Solicitor involved taken the time to understand the significance of the family home in meeting the unique needs of the family, in particular, the child with Autism a court could have been persuaded to avoid a sale of the family home thereby securing the former family home.
Pensions are complex assets and require careful consideration.
Pensions can be overlooked, especially where there is an expectation that both parties, due to their ages, will continue to build their pension pots post-divorce. Whilst this may be true in many cases, what about those cases where the needs of the child(ren) supporting an Autism diagnosis means that the parent with care either has to work part time to accommodate the needs of the child or is simply unable to work at all. In this scenario it may not be possible for the parent with full time care of the child(ren) to build a pension pot in the same way that their former spouse can and therefore meticulous consideration is required to ensure that the parent with care achieves a fair outcome and their long term financial needs are not overlooked or underestimated.
Often parties try to reach an agreement independently between them in order to save on legal fees. Whilst this may seem like an attractive option in the short term, this can have detrimental results to either or both of the party’s in the longer term. For example a sale of a family home against one party’s will which could have been secured as a home for the dependent child[ren]. A dismissal of future income claims, which could otherwise have been reserved for the parent with care of the child[ren], although these examples are not exhaustive, they are a reality.
It is fundamentally important to any financial settlement that the needs of the child[ren] especially where an Autism diagnosis is present is understood as without this understanding a fair outcome to a financial settlement is unlikely to be achieved.
I know from personal experience the importance of ensuring that the right environment is created to support Autistic individuals.
It is extremely important to me that my client’s do not feel overwhelmed and that they feel comfortable with the way in which meetings are undertaken. It is for this reason that I offer a flexible approach to all meetings.