When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, the intent was to protect people with mental and physical disabilities. However, parents with disabilities face a legal quagmire when it comes to retaining child custody.
Many states have laws regarding the ability to care for a child if one is disability. The criteria various but, in general, the law allows for removal of the children from their home or outright termination parental rights. To add to the worries, every state allows disability to be factored into deciding custody issues. Sometimes, disease can be considered a disability. One mom from North Carolina believes her advanced breast cancer played a role in her ex-husband gaining custody of her children. She waged a Facebook war to raise awareness for parents in similar situations.
Another example comes from a nearly 500 page report compiled by the National Council on Disability about cases of discrimination against disabled parents. This particular example tells the story of a young blind couple from Independence, Mo. The mother was having trouble breast-feeding her new baby, and a concerned nurse alerted social services simply because both parents were blind. The call resulted in the baby landing in the foster care system for 57 days.
It is public policy in Florida to keep children in contact with their biological parents. If there’s an issue regarding whether parents can care for their children, the case often is decided in family court. It is important to work with an attorney who has experience in this complex field of law. Emotions can run high, and it’s imperative that the best interests of the child be in the forefront of any discussion.
Source: Time Magazine, “Why Parents with Disabilities Are Losing Custody of their kids,” Bonnie Rochman, Nov. 27, 2012