In addition to the day to day struggles of intellectual or physical disability, a new study confirms that disabled parents may also face challenges in the court. Disabled parents were found to be at a significantly higher risk of losing custody of their children.
In Los Angeles, California and nationwide, parents have lost custody of their children due to disability and many have to continuously fight to retain their rights to parenthood. The removal rate is as high as 80 percent for those parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities.
There are approximately 6.1 million children living with a disabled parent. Many advocates for individuals with disabilities believe that the U.S. legal system does not adequately protect the rights of parents with disabilities. Systematic hurdles and biases can prevent a disabled parent from maintaining custody of children. Though the Supreme Court has held that every citizen has the right of parenthood, some courts are favoring a non-disabled parent during divorce.
Child welfare laws allow the courts to determine when a parent is unfit; however, terminating parental rights on the basis of disability is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Protecting custody as parent with a disability can also be difficult at the time of divorce. A disabled parent may have a difficult time proving that they can manage as a single parent and could lose out to a non-disabled spouse. In the event of divorce, a parent with a physical or mental disability is more likely to lose custody of their children.
If you are suffering from a disability and are in need of financial support or advocacy an experienced attorney can protect your rights and interests.
Source: Huffington Post, "Disabled Parents Often Lose Custody of Children, Report Finds" David Crary, Nov. 26, 2012