Disability could have bearing on child custody

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Friday, December 7, 2012.

While the U.S. has been enlarging and protecting the rights of the millions of citizens with disabilities, particularly since 1990, when Congressional legislation formalized many regulations to level the playing field, there remain biases and barriers facing disabled parents. The examples of this unfairness abound.

Finding examples of these inequities is not difficult. A blind couple loses child custody of their newborn to the state. A Chicago quadriplegic mom had to fight an 18-month courtroom battle to retain custody of her young son. After paying a fee, a woman is told by the adoption agency that she may be an unfit adoptive mother because she endures cerebral palsy. These are but a few tragic examples of the challenges facing parents with disabilities.

The National Council on Disability released a new report, over 400 pages long, loaded with similar facts and a strong emotional appeal for change in this condition. A council member stated the problem clearly. “Parents with disabilities continue to be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain — and sometimes gain — custody of their own children.”

The report contends that our legal system is not protecting disabled parental rights. Further, many states’ child welfare laws permit the court system to decide that parents with disabilities are unfit for custody. The report strongly alleges that terminating parental rights because of a disability “clearly violates” the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).

The report, “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children,” projects that over 6 million children have disabled parents. If parents experience psychiatric or intellectual disabilities, the child removal rate can reach 80 percent.

How do you view this apparent unfair approach to disabled parents and their rights to raise their children? Should divorcing parents have problems getting or keeping custody if they suffer a disability?

Source: Huffington Post, “Disabled Parents Often Lose Custody Of Children, Report Finds,” David Crary, Nov.26, 2012