Over the years of practising as a Family Law Solicitor, clients cite numerous reasons for the breakdown in their marriage. Some clients have described the pressures of raising children, both financially and emotionally. Some clients have confided in me that the reason for the breakdown in their marriage is due to the pressures of raising a child with disabilities or additional needs, including autism. 87% of parents raising a child with a physical disability divorce. 80% of married couples raising a child with autism divorce, and the statistic is higher when there are multiple children with additional needs.

Parenting can present numerous challenges and increase stress levels within a marriage. When a child has additional needs, there are additional factors to consider, including attending regular meetings (often whilst working), addressing behavioural and sensory issues. Sometimes there are financial implications when one parent can no longer work in order to provide the child or children with the support they need. The pressures on the education system mean many children do not have places in specialist schools, which places extra pressure on resources  in mainstream schools.Unfortunately they are often unable to meet the child’s additional needs, meaning the child may be asked to leave the school, leaving the parents carrying the responsibility for raising the child(ren) and providing ‘interim education’ in challenging circumstances. Sometimes being forced to give up work and battling the Local Authority for a desperately needed EHCP so that the child can receive an education.

All these factors, whether individual or multiple, can create pressures and tension within a marriage.  This is often a reality for parents raising a child with additional needs such as autism. During the course of my research, I came across one parent who described her experience by saying ‘we weren’t connecting or having time to ourselves. It was like living in a parallel universe. We talked all the time but mainly focused on all the challenges we had. I was all consumed. I wasn’t playing any real part in being a partner. I don’t feel guilty about this because, quite honestly, I am human. No one was to blame’.

Today, there is increased awareness of what autism means for the autistic person and the challenges the autistic person faces. With this comes more support for both the autistic person and for parents raising an autistic child. With increased awareness of what autism is and increased support for the autistic person and the parents, there is hope that the rate of divorce for parents raising a child with autism will decrease over time.

Within our family team, every individual has received training on autism and with this comes an increased understanding of the pressure’s autism can present for the couple raising a child with additional needs. Our family solicitors at Ellisons, address every case with compassion, understanding and respect and we look at the specifics of every case and advise accordingly. We are here to support you, whatever your circumstances are.

Our team can be contacted on 01206 764477 or you can contact via email on our Family Team page.