This is a question about child support and child custody for a child with special needs. Thank you in advance for your input.
My ex and I were never married. He walked out on me and our son when our son was 3 months old (cheated). We did a handshake deal, agreeing ex would pay $500 a month. Never went to court. I married and moved out of state with ex's okay, but try to fly back home so son can see ex and his family every year. I let my ex know he can facetime with son whenever he wants. Sometimes he talks to him for 10 minutes a week, sometimes he goes a month without contacting.
Within the past year our son has been diagnosed with a speech delay, autism, developmental delay, duplicated chromosome, and sleep apnea. My husband's military insurance covers all of my son's needs: surgery for sleep apnea, occupational therapy, speech therapy, ABA Therapy... I keep having to miss work for all of these appointments. My son was in public school, but had an awful experience. I decided to enroll him into a private school. My ex said it sounded good. Tuition is $1100 a month.
I told ex I was contacting a lawyer to have custody and child support done properly, especially because I was asked for documentation when I enrolled son into public school. Even though ex cheated on me I was afraid to pursue more child support because of baseless threats ex made and because I don't know how much ex makes. I didn't want to go through the hassle so always dropped the issue. Met with a lawyer and explained everything: Special needs child, ex walking out, needing proof of legal guardianship for child's enrollment... Lawyer told me to drop it. Said i'd lose rights. Said it isn't worth my time. This struck me as odd. Then lawyer said he'd draw up a contract to see if my ex would sign it. This contract seemed to incredibly favor my ex. We wouldn't go to court for actual child support, I would always pay 100% health insurance, I would pay 100% for educational expenses, ex could visit at any time (which I already allow), ex could contact son at any time (which I already allow). I paid this lawyer $275 for this information. I made corrections to the document, and said what would need to be changed before I would sign it and then the lawyer never got back to me.
Every vacation my family goes on is to back home so that son can see ex and his family. My son has had an incredibly stressful year. Ex didn't contact son for Easter. Found out he's vacationing in Europe. He keeps going on trips, with no thought to spending any of this money to see his child. Meanwhile i'm trying to figure out our son's care, missing work (and money) to make son's doctor appointments, trying to figure out how i'm going to afford $1100 a month for private school...
I'm wondering how I can find a lawyer who knows about family law when it concerns children with disabilities? Does our son's age (4 years old) and disabilities effect custody? Ex doesn't ask about any of son's care. Our son doesn't even really know his dad, and isn't comfortable with him for long periods of time. My ex has no clue how to handle our son's autistic traits... major meltdowns at times, wandering, inability to stay safe (walks into roads, walks into bike path at school, runs into swinging swings...)
I am not trying to keep my ex away from our son. I want what's best for our son. I also want proper child support so our son can learn in a safe environment. The thought of custody just scares me because I am not sure how my son would get all of his therapies if he was visiting his dad out of state, or if my ex would know how to keep our son safe. I asked him if supervised visitation at our place works until our son gets older because of son's diagnoses and ex said yes. But he has also said that he will go to court for more visitation so his child support payments won't be so high.