As David Crary reports for the Huffington Post, if you’re somehow disabled and have the misfortune of getting into a child custody dispute as part of a divorce or separation, or even another matter like assisted reproduction or adoption, you might have your work cut out for you.
The National Council on Disability says that people with disabilities ranging from blindness to quadriplegia to cerebral palsy have lost custody of their children in family law cases that took place across the nation.
The circumstances in each case were unique; in one, a woman had paid an advance fee to an adoption agency, but was then told that she would be unfit as an adoptive mother because of her cerebral palsy. In another, a mother went through many long months in a legal fight over custody, which was apparently precipitated because of her quadriplegia.
Crary reports one member of the National Council on Disability: “Parents with disabilities continue to be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain – and sometimes gain – custody of their own children.”
But one Maryland child-welfare administrator said: “At the end of the day, the child’s interest in having permanence and stability has to be the priority over the interests of their parents.”
One would hope, however, that a disability itself isn’t cause for a lengthy legal battle over child custody. But, according to the National Council on Disability, that doesn’t seem to be the case.