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Divorcing parents with disabilities may face challenges with child custody

Many individuals experiencing divorce struggle with custody issues. Determining the physical custody and legal custody of one's child can be an incredibly difficult process. California courts consider the best interests of the child when issuing child custody orders.

Thankfully, social advances now generally treat men and women equally in the U.S. when it comes to questions of custody. While in the past many women were often by default granted custody of their children, now courts understand that both genders are equally capable of providing a happy home for their children.

Unfortunately, one group of individuals may still be experiencing some sort of discrimination when it comes to child custody rulings - the disabled. According to experts, many disabled Americans every year see unfavorable custody rulings due to their disability. However, in many cases, a disability has nothing to do with a parent's ability to raise children.

Individuals with disabilities such as blindness, paralysis and cerebral palsy may face many hurdles in everyday life, but that does not necessarily mean they are not capable of raising children. Yet, many judges, social workers and the general public often misunderstand an individual's disability. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act intended to prohibit such presumptive behavior imposed on individuals with disabilities. The act outlaws discrimination to disabled persons.

However, it is sometimes difficult to determine when a disability gets in the way of one's ability to parent, particularly when lawmakers and the court system cannot be in the home of the family to understand how child rearing occurs.

With careful legal representation, proper evidence can be brought in front of a court in an effort to prove a disabled parent is capable of raising a child. Evidence of work in occupational or physical therapy, house adaptations and good support systems can help show a judge that the parent is able to raise his or her child in a happy home.

Source: CBS News, "Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: Report," Nov. 27, 2012

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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