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Court awards disabled mother visitation rights

In our last post, we discussed the story of a visitation struggle between two divorced parents. The story is certainly a sad one. Abbie and Dan were married and expecting triplets. When Abbie was giving birth, a series of medical mistakes cut off the flow of oxygen to her brain, leaving her in a vegetative state.

The couple has since divorced, and the father has had full custody of the three children since then. Although Abbie cannot speak or move, her parents filed a lawsuit on her behalf requesting that she receive visitation rights.

In Georgia, child custody and visitation are determined based on the best interests of the children. Although there is no evidence that suggests visitation will be beneficial to either the children or the mother, the court still awarded the mother visitation rights.

Under the court ruling, Abbie will be allowed to see her children for a five-day visit each year. In addition, she is also allowed to have monthly Skype visits with her children. If Dan is responsible for bringing the children to Abbie, that will mean literally travelling from coast to coast.

Studies consistently show that children who are raised by both parents are less likely to get into trouble, but there is little precedence regarding the impact a vegetative parent can have on toddlers.

In the 10-page ruling that awarded Abbie visitation rights, the judge gave unspecific reasons to support his decisions. He wrote that "there is no compelling evidence that the visitation by the children will have any benefit to Abbie...[but] there is no compelling evidence that visitation with Abbie will be detrimental to the children."

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Severely disabled mother wins visitation rights with triplets," Maria L. La Ganga, 25 March 2011

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