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Child custody matter centered on parental intelligence, not abuse

When a child is removed from a parent's care by state authorities, there is usually a disturbing series of events that led up to that decision. In most cases, severe acts of abuse or chronic neglect precede a child custody matter between a parent and the state. There are cases, however, in Colorado and elsewhere, in which state authorities make a determination about the best interests of a child that go against the beliefs and opinions of many in the community. An example is found in one family's struggle to bring their young son back into their home.

The couple lost their custody rights based on an assessment by the state that they had "limited cognitive abilities." The mother tested at an IQ level of 72, and was not aware that she was pregnant until she was in the later stages of labor. The father tested at an IQ level of 66, and receives Social Security disability checks based on a mental disability.

Regardless of the cognitive ability displayed by either parent, there was no sign of abuse or neglect that led the state to take the drastic measure of removing the child from their care. In fact, they have received a great deal of support from their community, including from family members and advocates for people with mental disabilities. Even so, their son remains in foster care, and that situation is unlikely to change under current law in their state of residence.

For many Colorado parents, the thought of losing their child based on a stranger's assessment of their intelligence level is nothing short of horrifying. State authorities have a great deal of power in determining how a child custody matter will be handled. In the opinion of many, this case is an example of a gross abuse of those powers, and the destruction of a family for no clear reason.

Source:, "This couple may have lost custody of their kids because they weren't smart enough", Eric Schulzke, July 31, 2017

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