Disabled Parents and Child Custody

A parent sits on a bench with their two small children sitting on either side of them, looking off into the distance

Child custody is one of the most sensitive and emotional issues dealt with by any family law attorney. These emotional connections may become even more apparent when parents are dealing with disabilities during their child custody dispute. The National Council on Disability reports, that one in ten children in America have at least one parent who maintains a disability, with 4.1 million disabled parents properly caring for their minor children. In order to achieve adequate and aggressive representation in your child custody dispute, seek out an experienced attorney to discuss your rights as a disabled parent.

Disabilities of a parent may include physical restraints such as confinement to a wheelchair and paralysis to deafness or blindness, or mental disabilities. Unfortunately, disabled parents not only have to face an uphill battle with their own care, but are faced with a battle in relation to their parental rights to their child as well. Although, a parent’s disability does not automatically remove their right to parent their child, it has been seen in some courts has an unfair hindrance.

When considering a child custody arrangement, the court is charged with the responsibility of determining the best interest of the child. This standard encompasses a number of different factors, however, the one that many courts rely on in a child custody arrangement involving a disabled parent is the “the mental and physical health of the parents.” This one factor can place a disabled parent at a severe disadvantage in the eyes of the court. However, with an educated and aggressive custody lawyer, we will press the court to look deeper into your disability and provide evidence as to the lack of risk your disability has on the child, the degree of care you are able to offer to yourself and the child, the extent of reliance on third parties for assistance, the effect the disability has on your emotional and physical capabilities, and the lack of hindrance on the child’s development. It is crucial for the court to not just look at your disability but the nature and extent to which the disability affects, or does not affect your child or your ability to parent.

Further, it is important to draw the court’s attention to the involvement of separate legal statutes when dealing with a disabled parent and a child’s best interests. Coupled with the child’s best interest, the court must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This Act seeks to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities and provide them with equal protection under the law minimizing the discrimination that may come with their disability, this includes protecting their fundamental right to parent. Further, under the ADA, it is prohibited to discriminate against a parent for using assistance in order to overcome or aid in their daily disability. Therefore, the court should not only consider the disability of a parent, but is required to weigh the other factors and evidence of a parent’s capabilities in combination with their possible limitations and refrain from discriminating against a parent simply because of a disability.

Physical disabilities will not remove a parent’s rights automatically, and if you have found yourself in a situation where you feel the court has unjustly discriminated against you due to your disability, or your current attorney is not properly representing your interests, contact an experienced lawyer today.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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