Five years after getting divorced, a mother who has legal and primary physical custody of her children begins tripping and falling. At first, she thinks it is just because she is tired and clumsy, but as her symptoms continue to grow, she decides it is time to visit the doctor. She's diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is given a cane.
Over time, she learns that she may lose her ability to walk. Even now, she is finding it challenging to keep up with her three children, all of whom are under the age of 12. She is concerned that she may lose her parental responsibilities due to her newly diagnosed disability. Her ex-husband has already made a few comments that lead her to believe he may petition the court to modify the custody order to reduce her time with her children.
The Americans With Disabilities Act
Family court judges cannot discriminate against parents simply because they have a disability. Instead, they need to analyze the child’s best interest using multiple factor analysis. Parents with disabilities may be able to provide excellent care for their children. Courts must consider the child's best interests when making a final decision. Family court judges will consider factors such as the relationship between the child with each parent and the age and health of the child.
Illinois Courts Consider the Child’s Best Interest
In a perfect world, Illinois courts will allow both parents to play a role in their children's lives. Unfortunately, some circumstances may not allow that. Illinois judges have significant discretion when it comes to modifying child custody orders. A parent who does not have a physical disability must provide the court with evidence that there has been a material change to their circumstances, mainly that one spouse has become physically disabled. In that case, the judge does have a right to change the child custody order.
When there is evidence that one parent is not fit to raise a child because of a disability or for any other reason, the court has the legal authority to lessen or even terminate that parent’s parental responsibilities. However, having a disability is not enough for a court to terminate your parental rights. The court will examine whether you can care for your children and whether the disability will improve in the near future to the point that a parent could assume his or her responsibilities without any issue. The other parents must explain why the parent with a physical disability should not receive as many or any rights.
Discuss Your Case With a Child Custody Attorney
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition and you are concerned about your parental rights, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.