Latest News 2011 May Stroke Victim Fights for Child Custody

Stroke Victim Fights for Child Custody

At 20 years of age, and a week before her wedding, a sudden stroke irrevocably changed the life of a young mother.  Now, years later, she must prove her competency to maintain custody of her second child, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for

P.F., at the time of the stroke, was raising a four-year-old son.  Her fiancé left her and her parents offered to help.   She was able to relearn to walk and she could change diapers with one hand.   But she was only able to regain a limited ability for speech.

Fast forward a few years and P.F. had another baby with another man.  The relationship ended and the father has since embroiled her in a yearlong custody battle.  

The two currently share joint custody.  P.F.’s former boyfriend is seeking full custody.

P.F. maintains that it is her disability at the crux of his pursuit for sole custody.

Jack Cavanagh, P.F.’s attorney, said, “Her ability to parent because of her disability will be on trial.”

P.F. suffers from aphasia as a result of the stroke.  Aphasia manifests as a struggle to use the correct words when the person wishes to communicate.   P.F. speaks only in stunted, faltering bursts.

P.F. also can no longer read due to her stroke.

Her children, two boys aged 5 and 12, live with her and her parents.  The family makes their home in Wentzville, Mo.

P.F.’s mother, L.O., often speaks up for her daughter on her behalf.  L.O. said of her daughter’s mothering, “Her ex says she will be unable to handle the emotional and educational needs (their child) will have. That she won't be able to help him with his homework.   She raised (her older son) with minimal contact with his father ... I don't do their laundry. I don't get them ready for school or into bed. I don't clean up after them.”

Missouri Legislature recently passed a law protecting the rights of disabled parents.  The law states that protective services cannot remove a child from its parents just because of a disability – there has to be a direct threat to the child’s safety, and, welfare.

But Kristen Dunham, the director of policy and advocacy for Paraquad, a nonprofit organization that represents disabled persons, said, “There is a large percentage of parents with developmental disabilities who have had children removed from their homes.”

Tammy Repaso, the attorney for T.R.’s ex-partner, claims that his quest for sole custody has nothing to do with her disabilities.   She said, “
We would never pursue a custody based solely on disability or disease of a parent. Instead, these matters are based on the best interest of the child.”

Psychological and physiological testing by experts have been completed on P.F., per her lawyer, which prove her to be a capable mother.  The results are to be presented in court if they go to trial as expected.

P.F. is concerned with speaking at the trial.  She said, “I don't want. Talking. I'm nervous about that. But I'm ready. I'm tough.”

Fighting for custody of your child, whether or not you are plagued with other issues, can cause a lot of turmoil.  Contact a family law attorney to assist you with your case.

Categories: Child Custody