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Could a parent lose child custody because of a low IQ?

Most people might believe their ex-spouses and the parents of their children are unintelligent, but what if the other parent has a severe cognitive impairment? For example, what if a parent has suffered brain damage, is mentally incapacitated or has a medical condition that has led to mental problems? Is it possible that a Michigan court could rule that the parent is unfit to care for his or her child?

In cases where a parent is "unfit," a court will usually move to revoke his or her parental rights and award full legal and physical custody to the other parent. The example of a case in Oregon may serve to answer the question of whether an IQ score could affect a parent's custody. According to court documents from the legal matter, state attorneys claimed that two parents possessed cognitive abilities that were so low that they would "interfere with (their) ability to safely parent their child."

The normal IQ range tends to be approximately 90 to 110, but in the instant case, the mother had an IQ of approximately 72 and the father had an IQ of approximately 66. Under normal psychological classifications, the mother had an "extremely low to borderline range of intelligence" and the father had a "mild range of intellectual disability." Sadly, as a result of their intellectual tests, the mother and father had their child taken from them and placed in foster care by state authorities.

In response, the mother told the media, "We personally think that IQ shouldn't have anything to do with it as long as you have the abilities of being able to support your child, being able to care for your child."

This sad case highlights the difference of opinion many may have regarding a child custody decision and a parent's "fitness" to serve as caretaker for his or her child. If your child custody rights are being challenged, make sure you fight for them appropriately in court with an experienced legal representative.

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