Fathers & Families’ mission is to protect children’s right to the love and care of both parents after divorce or separation. One of the ways fit parents are sometimes driven to the margins of their children’s lives is by one parent using the other parent’s disability or partial disability as a pretext to deny them custody or visitation with their children. While some disabled people are truly unable to care for their children, many are not. Fathers & Families is joining with disabled rights advocates, veterans groups, and California Senator Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) in sponsoring SB 1188 to solve this problem. Existing California family codes do not address the issue of disabled parents, leaving the door open for unnecessary and often expensive litigation, even in cases where the disabled parent had been successfully parenting the children for many
years prior to the separation or divorce. SB 1188 will add Section 3049 to the Family Code, which will read:
3049. In any proceeding to determine child custody or visitation under this part, in which at least one parent is disabled as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.), a court shall not use the disability of that parent as the basis of an award of custody or visitation to another party unless that party establishes by clear and convincing evidence that a grant of custody or visitation to the disabled parent would be detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the child.
SB 1188 shifts the burden onto the parent who raises the disability as an issue, serving as a deterrent to a parent seeking to raise the issue as a way to unnecessarily cause litigation. It also reduces disabled parents’ litigation costs and helps reduce court calendar time and costs at a time when California is struggling with budget woes. Fathers & Families often hears from parents who have had their disability unfairly used against them in family court. If you are a disabled parent who has lost or been threatened with a loss of child custody or visitation due to your disability, we want to know about it–please fill out our form below. Together with you in the love of our children, Glenn Sacks, MA Executive Director, Fathers and Families Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S. Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers and Families