Special Needs Planning in Divorce: Preserving Disability Benefits

Special Needs Trusts, Child Support and Alimony Considerations in Settlement Agreements and Parenting Plans

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will prepare family law attorneys with approaches to preserve disability benefits in divorces involving special needs children or spouses. The panel will identify and explain the complex issues, including alimony, child support, SSI, Medical Assistance (MA), and supplemental and special needs trusts.


The divorce rate is estimated at 80% in marriages in which there is a spouse or child with special needs, so preserving disability benefits is essential and requires careful planning. Counsel must understand and address complex issues in negotiating and drafting settlement agreements and parenting plans.

A properly structured special needs trust can preserve the rights to alimony or child support as well as eligibility for SSI/Medicaid benefits. Counsel must consider medical and financial needs, education and living arrangements, and decision-making requirements for the person with special needs.

Listen as our authoritative panel of family law experts outlines approaches for counsel to identify and resolve the complex issues that arise when either a child of divorcing parents or a divorcing spouse has special needs.



  1. Issues specific to divorce with special needs child or spouse
  2. Ways to structure alimony and/or child support considering SSI, MA and Medicaid issues
  3. Special needs and supplemental trusts
  4. Structuring the settlement agreement and parenting plan


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the specific considerations in divorces involving a spouse or child with special needs that must be addressed when drafting a settlement agreement or parenting plan?
  • What approaches are available to counsel when structuring alimony and/or child support considering SSI, MA and Medicaid issues?
  • What are some best practices for properly structuring special needs trusts to preserve the rights to alimony or child support and eligibility for SSI/Medicaid benefits?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Judith L. Poller
Judith L. Poller

Pryor Cashman

Her practice is focused on matrimonial and family law matters. She is a published author and a frequent speaker at...  |  Read More

Frederick M. Misilo, Jr.
Frederick M. Misilo, Jr.

Special Needs & Elder Law Practice Group Chair
Fletcher Tilton

His practice includes elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, estate and trust administration,...  |  Read More

Marisa W. Higgins
Marisa W. Higgins

Fletcher Tilton

She concentrates her practice in all areas of domestic relations law, including divorce, custody, child support and...  |  Read More

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