Justice system discriminates against parents with disabilities

The National Council on Disability just released a new report detailing how parents with disabilities are facing bias in both retaining and gaining custody of children, often even their own. The independent federal agency’s report suggests that practices of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are substandard to the goals it is intended to achieve when it comes to parents with disabilities.

The report finds that much of the fault falls at the feet of an American justice system that is not adequately protecting the rights of these parents who suffer from physical and/or mental disabilities. According to the findings, child welfare laws in many states allow for the courts to determine whether or not a parent if fit based on their disability. The ADA was enacted in 1990 to protect against actions such as these that terminate parental rights and tear apart a family due to a disability.

Some suggest that a better solution for society and these families would be to provide a better support structure instead of separating families. This would be beneficial to families where one or two of the adults have a disability. Sometimes the courts can’t fully comprehend how a couple with disabilities can provide for a child through the disability because they don’t truly understand the disability and how those who suffer from them adapt to accommodate them. This becomes even more evident when a couple is seeking a divorce where one party is disabled. The party suffering from disability is more likely to face bias in child custody battles than their counterpart.

A system of structured support would serve communities better and create fewer burdens on an already overburdened social service system. Society greatly values protecting children and people with disabilities. The two should not always be separate and exclusive as this report indicates.

If you are having child custody difficulties, or have any other family law matters you need assistance with, please contact a trustworthy family law attorney who can help guide you through your legal options.

Source: loganbanner.com, “Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: report,” David Crary, Dec. 4, 2012

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