Does New York’s Custody Law Discriminate Against Disabled Parents?
Throughout the country, states use the “best interests of the child” standard when making decisions regarding custody and visitation. During these reviews, judges can use any information they feel is relevant, but New York law has established several specific factors to be considered. Some of these factors seem fairly obvious, such as whether a parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence. However, another factor is raising questions about whether it unfairly discriminates against New York parents with disabilities.
Here, judges are supposed to evaluate each parent’s physical and mental health when making decisions on legal authority and residence for children of broken homes. Advocates for individuals with disabilities have objected to the use of factors like this because of the potential implication that these mothers and fathers cannot handle their parental duties as well as others.
If you’re concerned about your ex possibly using your condition to restrict or deny your rights as a parent, it is critical to retain an effective child custody lawyer. Negative stereotypes should not be allowed to taint the judge’s decision-making process. Each case deserves to be evaluated on its own merits, and studies have shown that a mother or father’s disability typically has no significant effect on their parenting skills.
In Janus vs. Janus, the Appellate Division, Third Department, held that a disability alone cannot be used as a reason to deny custody rights to an otherwise qualified parent. Rather, courts should examine an individual parent’s capabilities and the adaptations they have made to account for their condition. There are many ways that a mother or father can overcome a disability to perform essential parenting tasks, such as:
- Supervising children’s activity and behavior on a day-to-day basis
- Communicating with their children’s teachers and medical providers
- Transporting children to doctor and dentist visits
Technological advances have given parents with disabilities more options than ever to meet their needs and those of their children. Moreover, a strong support system of family and friends can fill in gaps if a parent’s condition prevents them from engaging in a particular activity. Working with an accomplished New York attorney can help you make the strongest possible argument in support of your parenting skills.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. is the Long Island divorce leader who provides exceptional representation to parents during disputes over child custody. If you’re concerned about your disability being used against you or have any other family law concern, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.