When one of the spouses becomes disabled during the course of their marriage, it can cause the marriage to deteriorate to the point of one or both spouses filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is especially true when disability becomes even more debilitating as time goes on.

Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have found that mediating these types of cases requires the consideration of additional issues to a divorce case – especially when it comes to spousal support and child related issues.

One of the most important issues that must be looked at is whether the spouse(s) are receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) SSDI is a Social Security program that pays monthly benefits to you if you become disabled before you reach retirement age and aren’t able to work. SSDI payments are based on a disabled spouse’s earning’s record, the type of disability, and the disabled spouse’s age. The most important factor is the disabled spouse’s earning’s record it is used to calculate the monthly benefit that is received due to the disability. Further, each child and the spouse in the disabled worker’s family receives up to 50% of the disabled worker’s monthly disability amount.

However, the total of the spouse’s benefit and the children’s benefit cannot be greater than the maximum family benefit, which is generally 150% of the disabled worker’s monthly SSDI benefits. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that these benefits can have a positive impact on both spousal support and child support issues when the disabled spouse had earned an income that was much higher than minimum wage. On the other hand, if the disabled spouse had been a stay-at-home provider for the children with little or no earning history then spousal support becomes a major issue for our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators to deal with in an attempt to fully resolve the case at mediation.

Since Florida cases involving time-sharing with minor children requires that a “Parenting Plan” be prepared that is in the best interest of the children, a parent’s disabilities shouldn’t affect time-sharing unless his or her ability to meet the needs of the children is impaired. A parent who is unable to care of themselves or are chronically hospitalized will have a difficult time in negotiating a time-sharing schedule that provides a significant amount of visitation with his or her children.

As stated above, the type of disability is a factor that must be considered when addressing Parenting Plan issues. It should be obvious that serious back or knee issues should not negatively impact setting a time-sharing schedule, but when the disability is psychological or requires pain management a parenting plan which really considers the needs and best interest of the children.

At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators understand the issues that are related to disabilities and recognize the importance of assisting parties in reaching a Marital Settlement Agreement that is fair to both parties.

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