Many California couples might find themselves fighting for custody of their children after a divorce. For some, this process, which is complex and emotional, might become even more complicated if one of the parents has a disability, because the other party might use it as a way to gain custody.

Disabled parents who have have been involved in a custody dispute might have had to deal with both the other parent and judges questioning their ability to parent correctly and fulfill their children’ needs due to their disability. It is then left up to them to prove that they can, a conflict that can last for months.

In the first part of the 20th century, it was an accepted practice to enforce sterilization on disabled people because it was believed any children birthed by disabled people would become a burden on society. The ideas that led to this type of behavior have unfortunately persisted, even after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

Parents with disabilities face more challenges in a custody proceeding, since many dependency statutes still allow ccourts to rule against disabled parents. Ccourts still often come to the determination that a disabled parent is unfit for custody, even though experts agree that the best interest of children lie in continuing their relationship with both parents. However, the idea behind these laws is that a child might only be taken away from a parent if that parent’s disability might actually pose a threat to the child. Parents who find themselves facing this type of conflict might seek assistance from a family law attorney.