Can you lose custody of your child because of a disability?

You have a disability that limits your physical abilities, but does that stop you from being an effective parent? Your co-parent would like the court to believe that’s so — and you’re concerned that the court may agree.

The reality is that parents with disabilities can face discrimination in family court situations. Knowing more about what the law says can help you craft a strategy to defend your custody rights.

What does the law in Connecticut say?

Just like in every other state, courts here will focus on what’s in “the best interests of the child” when making custody decisions. However, Connecticut law is actually very specific about the issue of parents with disabilities. The mental and physical health of a parent are considered in custody decisions but “a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody.”

In other words, the fact that you are disabled cannot be the sole determining factor in any custody decision. Instead, the court must look at other factors, including:

  • Your child’s wishes, their temperament and developmental needs
  • The relationship you currently have with your child
  • Your ability to be actively involved in your child’s life
  • Your child’s security and adjustment to their current home, school and community
  • The stability of your child’s existing residence

While these aren’t the only things on the list the court must consider, they do give you starting points for arguments that your custody situation should not be changed simply because you now have a disability. If you’re an effective, loving parent who is still capable of providing a stable home and you can meet your child’s needs, then nothing should interfere with your existing parent-child relationship.