Although Congress passed landmark legislation that was designed to protect millions of disabled Americans in 1990, many reportedly still face both discrimination and bias with regard to parenthood. An independent federal agency, the National Council on Disability, recently published a lengthy report that describes countless instances of discrimination against disabled parents and those attempting to adopt. According to advocates, disabled Americans often find themselves struggling to retain custody of their children for no reason other than their disability. In other cases, handicapped parents allegedly face a number of hurdles to gain custody of their kids in the first place.
According to the National Council on Disability’s report, Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children, examples of discrimination against handicapped parents are not difficult to find. In Kansas City, Missouri, a couple reportedly had their two-day-old newborn removed from their custody for nearly two months because they were both blind. In Chicago, Illinois, a quadriplegic mother allegedly battled to regain custody of her son for more than one year. In another case, a California woman who suffers from cerebral palsy allegedly paid an adoption agency to assist her before she was told she may not be fit to adopt.
The report claims child welfare laws in most states allow a parent’s disability to factor into child custody decisions. It also states that the nation’s legal system fails to adequately protect the rights of disabled parents, often in clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some child-welfare workers maintain that their only priority is the best interests of each child. Still, many disabled advocates believe increased community support for parents with disabilities would protect children and keep families together.
More than 6 million American children reportedly have at least one parent who suffers from a physical or mental disability. Such parents are allegedly more likely to lose custody following divorce and have difficulty adopting. In addition, an estimated 80 percent of parents who suffer from an intellectual handicap or mental disorder are purportedly at risk of losing custody of their kids. According to the National Council on Disability, Congress should amend the ADA to include additional protections for disabled parents. Still, the report praises a few states such as California for changing a number of outdated child custody laws that can affect the rights of disabled parents.
The most contentious aspect of many divorce cases is the issue of child custody and visitation. If you are a disabled or other parent who has questions regarding child custody matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doppelt and Forney, APLC today. Mr. Doppelt is a hardworking Encinitas family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing clients who are facing stressful family law issues. Doppelt and Forney, APLC serves clients in Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, Linda Vista, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a committed family lawyer, please contact Doppelt and Forney, APLC through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
Paternity Cases in San Diego in 2012, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2012
Technology May Help Streamline Child Custody Coordination in California, Nationwide, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, November 27, 2012
Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: report, by David Crary, news.yahoo.com