Heart-Breaking Custody Case from California

Mar 30, 2011

A California judge decided a unique child custody case this week.  The judge was required to decide whether a paralyzed and disabled mom who cannot speak should see her children. 

As chronicled in this heart-breaking article, Abbie Dorn was paralyzed during the delivery of the triplets that are at the center of this case and has remained severely disabled. 

The children’s father argued that Ms. Dorn is no longer capable of being a mother.  Ms. Dorn’s attorney countered that Ms. Dorn can contribute to her children’s lives even without the ability to move or speak.

I do not know what the laws of California say about this matter.  I suspect that, like most states, California’s courts put the best interest of the children at the forefront of child custody rulings. 

I suppose reasonable arguments can and have been made for both sides.  However, it seems to me a dangerous precedent for a court to determine that a parent’s value to their child’s life is solely dependent on the parent’s physical abilities. After all, this is the only mother these kids will ever have.  

Perhaps for these reasons, the judge ruled that even if the mother cannot interact with her children, her children can interact with her.  The judge then ruled that the children should see their mother for a set period of time every year.  

There are some legal intricacies in this case that are of interest to lawyers only. 

But, it seems to me that the real lesson of this case is that whatever limitations you believe that your spouse may have as a person and a parent, the courts know that each parent has value to their children (abusive and dangerous parents aside).  And, the courts will work very hard to foster a child’s relationship with each parent. This court required cross country travel just so the kids could be with their mom, touch her and see her smile.

That is something to think about the next time you get frustrated with the other parent of your child and think about going to court.

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