If a parent is diagnosed with a severe medical condition requiring changes to a parenting plan, both parents are encouraged to come to a new agreement. If parents cannot agree on a new plan, the dispute can be addressed by the Family Court.

When reviewing any custody agreement, a Rhode Island judge will always first consider what is in the child’s best interest. In the event a parent’s ability to care for a child, or theri decision making is impaired by an illness, modifications can be made to a custody agreement.

A Judge will generally issue an order allowing both parents meaningful access to the child while ensuring the child’s needs are met. While judges are required to examine the objective parenting abilities of each parent, they also work hard to avoid penalizing a parent for diminished capacity due to illness.

If a disability directly impacts a parent’s ability to care for the child, the court must consider this when altering a parenting order.

For example, a condition causing a parent’s change in behavior or homelessness may warrant a change in custody. The court will consider the severity and type of illness before making any decisions.

Arguments made that a parent’s physical limitation negatively hinders the parent’s ability to care for a child are typically scrutinized by most judges. Many parents with disabilities are capable, loving providers.

Therefore, judges can be extremely reluctant to make any permanent modifications. In most circumstances involving a parent with a newly diagnosed illness, a Judge will seek to make any custody changes temporary and reversible.

If you have questions, contact our office today for help navigating a parental agreement or child custody modifications.