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Child custody matters complicated by parent's disability

When it comes to one's rights, the ability to care for and obtain custody of children is often paramount. Any Colorado parent who has been through the process of obtaining custody or visitation rights knows how difficult and emotional that process can be. Unfortunately, not all parents enjoy this right as fully as others, a concern that has prompted a study by the National Council on Disability on child custody matters as they pertain to persons living with a disability.

The 445-page report that emerged from the study suggests that parents who have a disability are far more likely to lose custody of their children than those who do not have a mental or physical disability. This assertion may be news to some, but many people within the disabled community have been aware of the problem for decades. Stories of families torn apart by misconceptions are many in number.

One family in which both parents were blind had their daughter taken away just two days after her birth. Another who is quadriplegic had to endure an expensive and stressful 18 month legal battle to retain her parental rights to her young child. These stories occur throughout the country, and affect parents and the children who are removed from their homes.

For parents who are engaged in a child custody dispute child, the stress and fear can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know what actions to take, and those who are unfamiliar with their legal rights under Colorado law may wonder how they can preserve their child's best interests.

It is important to devise a thoughtful legal strategy in child custody matters to protect one's parental rights. Above all, family law courts look to protect children's needs when handling child custody cases. So it is important for parents with disabilities who seek custody to demonstrate that they can best provide for their child's needs.

Source: Associated Press, "Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: report," Nov. 25, 2012

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