Why Can Family Court Discriminate Against Americans With Disabilities?

Image credit Wokandapix from Pixabay.

There’s an interesting pattern emerging from my investigative work into the family court system in Missouri: institutionalized discrimination against Americans with disabilities. (You can read about the investigation here.) The main plot is that court professionals and experts are alleged to be diagnosing one parent or the other with mental disorders in order to take away time with their children and drag out court battles for longer billing hours. Most people have been upset about the money aspect because it is so shocking to hear that for the pleasure of losing your kids, you have to pay the guy who falsely diagnosed you with a mental disorder $30,000.

That’s bad enough, but what about the diagnosis in the first place? What if it’s true? What if a bunch of people fighting in divorce court really do have personality disorders? Is that a reason to remove their children? How could it be? A mental disorder is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Why are family courts in the business of discriminating against the disabled?

Further, in many cases, the fighting parents did not enter court claiming that one or the other was mentally impaired. They came into court because they believed that our judicial system would settle a dispute fairly and help people figure out the very traumatic steps of dividing a family. But that’s not what they got. Instead, they were ordered to go into therapy and take dubious tests to determine their mental fitness. Don’t get divorced, kids. It’s ugly. 

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I had a dear friend whose mother was a paranoid schizophrenic. Should we remove all the children of schizophrenics because of this mental disorder? And if we do not do that by rule, then why would a person’s mental health diagnosis be used as a weapon against them in a custody case? Some of these doctors are diagnosing parents with narcissistic personality disorder and using it to remove children. But if it were a crime to have narcissistic personality disorder while raising children, then no one serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (or the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County) should have parental rights.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are to be given more consideration in court, not less.

Title II of the ADA applies to the services, programs, and activities of all state and local governments throughout the United States, including child welfare agencies and court systems.13  The “services, programs, and activities” provided by public entities include, but are not limited to, investigations, assessments, provision of in-home services, removal of children from their homes, case planning and service planning, visitation, guardianship, adoption, foster care, and reunification services.  “Services, programs, and activities” also extend to child welfare hearings, custody hearings, and proceedings to terminate parental rights.

But what’s actually happening in the family court system in Missouri is that disabilities are being weaponized against parents and used as a bludgeon to further separate their already broken families. Either way you look at it, this is an egregious violation of rights. If parents are being falsely diagnosed then perjury is being committed in order to remove children from fit parents. If parents are being correctly diagnosed then judges have violated the ADA, which they are expressly forbidden to do.

There is a trendy push for “awareness” of mental health as touted by former prince Harry and his bride. They should take their desire for the spotlight and go stand in front of family courts in America where sunlight is desperately needed.


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