Living with a mental disability or physical handicap can make even everyday tasks challenging. Unfortunately, just as a disability can affect your career, your personal life, and your finances, it can also affect your family and your child custody case.
Disability and child custody: the facts
The National Council on Disability, a federal agency, released a report last month focusing on the issue of child custody and disabled parents. They found that, in general, the legal system does not have the proper safeguards in place to protect the rights of disabled parents who are fighting to keep their kids.
Across the country, 6.1 million children have a disabled parent. These parents have a significantly higher risk of losing custody of their children, especially when they are going through a divorce. The disabled may also face barriers when trying to conceive or adopt children. Sadly, some disabled parents may face child custody challenges during divorce, even though they have been successfully caring for their children for years.
Why and how disability can affect child custody
Some states have recently passed laws that protect the rights of disabled parents during the child custody process; however, many others still do not have specific laws regarding disabled parents. In Washington, child custody is based on the best interests of the children – a concept that can be quite confusing when a disabled parent is involved in the case.
In some cases, a disabled parent may be able to provide the same care, security, and safety as any other parent – with understandable modifications and differences. In addition, most judges agree that having children spend time with and have contact with both parents is ideal for kids. However, there are instances when the care of a disabled parent is not in the best interests of a child; for example, if a parent is unable to properly provide care and safety for his or her kids because of a disability. In a minority of heart-wrenching cases, a disabled parent caring for children could involve neglect or abuse.
Seattle child custody attorney
If you are involved in a Washington State child custody case that involves a disabled parent (or two disabled parents), you may wish the assistance of a knowledgeable, experienced Seattle divorce and custody lawyer. To learn more about our legal services – and to learn more about your case – call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today: 425-460-0550.