Defending the Rights of Parents With Disabilities in Custody and Visitation Determinations

Rebutting Negative Stereotypes and Biases, Trial Strategies, and Critical Considerations for Final Orders

This program is postponed. New date TBD.

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A


Date: TBD


This CLE webinar will discuss what family law attorneys need to know when representing clients with physical disabilities in custody and parenting time disputes. Parents with mobility, sensory, and other physical disabilities face a host of problems in family courts, all too often rooted in implicit biases and unsubstantiated assumptions about their fitness and ability to parent. Counsel are often unaware of the supportive services, and equipment that may facilitate their client’s parenting abilities. The panel will discuss these, and other important considerations and strategies to avoid being blindsided by a custody decision maker's unfair and unsupported broad leaps to conclusions.

Description

Parents with physical disabilities often face unique obstacles in getting and retaining custody of, or even visitation with their children due to stereotypes and ill-founded assumptions about their parenting abilities.

In making custody and parenting time decisions, the court applies the best interests of the child standard. When one of the litigants has a physical disability, however, the Americans with Disabilities Act should also come into play. Many family court judges and lawyers are unaware of the importance of applying the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act in these cases, both to avoid unlawful discrimination against parents with disabilities, and to reach more accurate, better-informed determinations as to the best interests of the children. Ensuring that all parents have equal access to parenting opportunities and fair treatment in family courts promotes the best interests of the children.

Competent representation requires building an understanding of the client's disability and how the client and children have adapted and managed. The focus should be on effectively demonstrating how the court should weigh the parent's capabilities against their limitations – and consider them in the context of the other party’s capabilities and limitations.

Attorneys must be able to ensure that custody and visitation decisions are based on objective evidence and are appropriately tailored to the unique needs of the family. Counsel must recognize and counter stereotypes, assumptions, and biases about parents with disabilities.

Listen as our authoritative panel provides the knowledge that family lawyers need when advising and representing disabled parents.

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Outline

  1. Overview of historical treatment of persons with disabilities and the ADA relevant to parenting and child custody
  2. Obstacles faced in family courts by parents with disabilities
  3. Tips and strategies to counter stereotypes and to best represent parents with disabilities
  4. Applying the best interests of the child standard
  5. Statutory protections under state and federal law

Benefits

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How can counsel best confront and undermine bias about the fitness of parents with disabilities?
  • What strategies may be helpful in presenting the client's custody case?
  • How should a parent's disability weigh into custody and visitation decisions?
  • How can attorneys prepare their client's custody case (and their client) for trial?
  • What should or should not be included in the final orders?
  • What steps should counsel take to check themselves for bias about a client's disability, and better inform themselves regarding their client’s capabilities?

Faculty

Gold, M. Debra
M. Debra Gold

Attorney
mdg Custody Litigation Consulting

Ms. Gold serves as a Guardian ad Litem in Georgia custody cases. After litigating and serving as a Guardian ad Litem in...  |  Read More

Lord, Georgia
Georgia Lord

Attorney
Radford & Keebaugh

Georgia Lord, an attorney with the Decatur firm of Radford & Keebaugh, LLC, proudly offers Collaborative and...  |  Read More