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Can you lose custody due to your disability?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2020 | Divorce

An unfortunate and uncomfortable fact is that parents with disabilities often lose custody of their children, all across America. When custody battles arise, the non-disabled parent may take advantage of the situation to imply you lack the mental capacity or physical strength to care for your child. Some may even imply mental instability could put your child at risk. In some cases, even well-meaning health care professionals put disabled parents in this position.

The American Bar Association reports that there are 4.1 million documented parents with disabilities who have custody of minor children. However, many of these parents faced an uphill battle to retain custody and probably continue to fight the battle for some time.

History of discrimination

In the early 1900s, discrimination against parents with disabilities was even worse. Adults experienced forced sterilization and authorities declared them unfit for parenting roles. By the 1970s into the 1990s, lawmakers turned their biases into policies. These policies made it much easier for children to face automatic removal from homes.

Current situation

Unfortunately, the situation has not improved much. In fact, current removal rates for children of parents with disabilities still sits at around 80%. It seems especially likely if you have psychiatric or intellectual disabilities. Believe it or not, deafness and blindness may also result in removals and loss of parental rights, even if you have a milder case.

Biases shared by judges and other professionals in the legal system worsens the situation. Ignorance of the realities of living with disabilities further complicates things. This puts parents with disabilities under intense pressure to prove they have enough support systems in place to care for their children.