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Disabled Parents Face Challenges in NM Child Custody DisputesThere are a wide range of issues that a New Mexico family law judge will consider when determining what type of parental timeshare arrangement is in the best interest of minor children. While many of these relevant factors involve the relationship between the parent and the child, the ability of the parent to provide a safe and secure home and to provide appropriate parenting is also the focus of many factors a judge will take into consideration. Although most parents can benefit from legal advice from a Santa Fe Child Custody Attorney, there are certain groups of well-intentioned parents who especially need legal advice and advocacy because they may face biases built into the legal process.

One category of parents that may have a heightened need for legal representation are parents with physical and intellectual disabilities. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act has protected many individuals with physical or mental limitations from discrimination in a range of venues, disabled parents often are more likely to be denied significant parenting time in a divorce or other legal actions involving child custody according to a report by the National Council on Disability.

Some prominent examples that have been reported by the Huffington Post include:

• A mom paid the required advance fee to an adoption agency before being advised that she might be determined to be “unfit” because she had cerebral palsy.
• Parents had their child taken away two days after birth because the parents were blind.
• A mom who was quadriplegic was forced to fight an eighteen month legal battle to maintain custody of her kids because of her physical condition.

The report from the National Council on Disability also indicates that the laws in most states do not provide adequate protection to parents with disabilities. Most states expressly permit a court to consider physical and mental conditions when determining what type of timeshare arrangement is in the child’s best interest. New Mexico’s statute that sets forth the factors for a judge to weigh when determining the best interest of the child expressly includes the physical and mental health of both parents.

Some may be tempted to dismiss this as a minor issue that impacts a very small number of parents, but a recent report indicates that approximately 6.1 million parents suffer from a physical or mental disability. Disabled parents also face a much higher probability of losing custody of their children with removal rates being as high as eighty percent when parents suffer from physical or cognitive deficits.

Detailed Parenting Plans Can Prevent Future Disagreements & Court Intervention

The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.

Given the lack of legal protections for disabled parents and the exceptional challenge of navigating child custody legal proceedings, time is of the essence when it comes to seeking legal representation in a child custody case. If you have questions about child custody or visitation rights, Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque during which we discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.

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