Visitation and child custody arrangements are often some of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. Unfortunately, that situation can become even more strenuous when health issues become involved. Parents suffering from a serious illness or physical disability that limits mobility are often concerned they may lose their children to the other party in a divorce. That’s why you need to speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible if your marriage is ending while you are dealing with issues like cancer, long-haul COVID, or any disability that makes it difficult to perform physical activity.

How New York Child Custody Arrangements Are Determined

Child Holding Brooklyn Divorced Parent FigurinesIf the parents in a divorce can’t come to an amicable agreement on custody that is approved by the court, a judge will make those decisions for you. That’s where things can get tricky because every custody case is different. When deciding issues like visitation, sole custody, or joint custody in a New York divorce case, the judge’s role is to consider the best interest of the child.

Maintaining home life stability, providing education, and having the financial ability to cover normal costs are all critical elements of deciding where the children will stay most of the time. The list of factors that make up the court’s decision in child custody arrangements typically include:

  • Ability of each parent to provide child care
  • Domestic violence and spousal abuse situations
  • Educational standards in the area where each parent lives
  • Financial stability of each parent
  • History of substance abuse from either parent
  • Maintaining home stability (such as considering where the child has resided most often if the parents are already living apart, or where the child’s siblings currently live)
  • Preferences of the child in cases involving older teen children
  • Physical and mental health of each parent

Yes, that last point about the overall health of the parent includes analyzing physical disabilities and mental illness. A judge will particularly consider how those sorts of disabilities could impact your ability to care for the child by preparing meals, buying clothes, providing emotional support, transporting the kids to and from school, etc.

Protect Your Rights as a Disabled Parent During a Divorce

Of course, simply being disabled isn’t immediately grounds alone to deny custody or reduce visitation. The difficulties you face due to the illness that interferes with your ability to raise a child can see a custody decision go against you, however. 

In cases of terminal illness, deteriorating physical ability, or crushing medical financial debt, the court may decide the other parent is in a better position to care for children in the long term. That’s why you need a skilled child custody attorney to ensure you aren’t discriminated against during your divorce and that your legal rights are properly defended. That's where the help of an experienced New York divorce lawyer comes in.

Any disabled parent going through a divorce should speak with an experienced attorney about what accommodations are potentially available through Medicaid, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and other federal, state, or local programs. There may be methods to improve your custody case by showing you have the support system in place and tools available to safely raise a child while dealing with your particular disability’s challenges.

An attorney can help by showing the court you are receiving treatment for your condition, have installed some sort of adaptive equipment to assist at home, have the means to provide transportation to school or doctor’s appointments, and so on.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Brooklyn Child Custody Lawyer Today

Whether you are about to go through a divorce or need to modify existing child custody arrangements due to changes in health, consulting an attorney is a crucial step. You have the same legal rights as any other parent, and your disability doesn’t change that fact. Alatsas Law Firm is conveniently located for residents of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Our ground floor office is handicapped accessible with a subway stop and two bus lines nearby.

We know that dealing with legal issues affecting your family can be stressful, but we will proactively work to provide you with peace of mind as you move forward. If you’re in need of assistance with a divorce or family law concern, contact us online today at 718-233-2903 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.  


Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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