Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.

Father with "below-average" IQ gets custody rights reinstated

For some fathers, the termination of custody rights is a conscious decision by the father. But for others, it is the result of a court order. But what recourse does a father have to get back those rights? It may seem like a difficult task, but for a father who desperately wants to have contact with his children, it’s worth it.

One particular father had his parental rights terminated late last year. The ruling was made after the court determined that the father would not be able to provide the best home environment for his young daughter. The father’s mental impairment, a “below-average intellectual functioning and an IQ of about 73,” was the deciding factor.

It appears that a district court in Minnesota made the decision based on several concerns that the county had regarding the father’s ability to take care of the child. Specifically there were concerns that the father had exhibited poor judgment. But despite the fact that the father completed several parenting classes and successfully watched his daughter on a number of different occasions, his rights were terminated.

But the father appealed the ruling and it was overturned. The Minnesota Court of Appeals took a closer look at the situation, assessing whether the man’s mental impairment would actually be bad for the child. Specifically, the court considered “whether the termination was supported by clear and convincing evidence that it was done in the child’s best interests.” Evidence was brought forward that highlighted the man’s responsibilities as an employee of a local shop and his ability to support himself.

Getting his parental rights reinstated has made this father very happy. And while he does not currently have primary custody, he will be able to see his daughter and spend time with her.

Source: Star Tribune, “Mental impairment isn't grounds to end parental rights, Minnesota Court of Appeals says,” David Chanen, April 21, 2014.

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