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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2649         FILED ON: 1/18/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1379

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Paul R. Heroux

_______________

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Paul R. Heroux

2nd Bristol

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

James J. O'Day

14th Worcester

Kenneth I. Gordon

21st Middlesex

Mary S. Keefe

15th Worcester

Anne M. Gobi

5th Worcester

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Jonathan Hecht

29th Middlesex

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

David M. Rogers

24th Middlesex

Carlo Basile

1st Suffolk

John J. Binienda

17th Worcester

Carolyn C. Dykema

8th Middlesex

James B. Eldridge

Middlesex and Worcester

John J. Lawn, Jr.

10th Middlesex

Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

34th Middlesex


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2649        FILED ON: 1/18/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1379

By Mr.  Heroux of Attleboro, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 1379) of Paul R. Heroux and others relative to prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings.  The Judiciary. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

_______________

In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

_______________

 

An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. Chapter 208 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 31A the following section:-

              Section 31B. For the purposes of this chapter the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:-

              “Adaptive parenting equipment”, includes any piece of equipment or any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the parenting capabilities of a parent with a disability.

              “Disability”, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This definition shall be broadly interpreted, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

              “Supportive parenting services”, services that help parents with a disability compensate for those aspects of the disability that affect their ability to care for their children and that will enable them to discharge their parental responsibilities. The term includes, but is not limited to, specialized or adapted training, evaluations, and assistance with effective use of adaptive equipment, as well as accommodations that allow a parent with a disability to benefit from other services, such as braille text or sign language interpreters.

              Nothing in this chapter shall allow a parent’s disability to be considered a factor in a determination of custody of or visitation with a minor child, absent a specific showing by a preponderance of the evidence made by the party raising the allegation, that there is a nexus between the parent’s disability and alleged harm to the child, and that this alleged harm cannot be prevented or alleviated by accommodations for the disability, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              If the court considers a parent’s disability as a factor in an award of custody of and or visitation with a child, the court shall make specific written findings as to the nexus between the parent’s disability and harm to the child, what effect, if any, said harm has on the best interests of the child, and whether or not adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services can alleviate said harm.

              SECTION 2. Chapter 209C of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 10 the following section:-

              Section 10A. For the purposes of this chapter the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:-

              “Adaptive parenting equipment”, includes any piece of equipment or any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the parenting capabilities of a parent with a disability.

              “Disability”, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This definition shall be broadly interpreted, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

              “Supportive parenting services”, services that help parents with a disability compensate for those aspects of the disability that affect their ability to care for their children and that will enable them to discharge their parental responsibilities. The term includes, but is not limited to, specialized or adapted training, evaluations, and assistance with effective use of adaptive equipment, as well as accommodations that allow a parent with a disability to benefit from other services, such as braille text or sign language interpreters.

              Nothing in this chapter shall allow a parent’s disability to be considered a factor in a determination of custody of or visitation with a minor child, absent a specific showing by a preponderance of the evidence made by the party raising the allegation, that there is a nexus between the parent’s disability and alleged harm to the child, and that this alleged harm cannot be prevented or alleviated by accommodations for the disability, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              If the court considers a parent’s disability as a factor in an award of custody of and or visitation with a child, the court shall make specific written findings as to the nexus between the parent’s disability and harm to the child, what effect, if any, said harm has on the best interests of the child, and whether or not adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services can alleviate said harm.

              SECTION 3. Section 21 of said chapter 119, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby further amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraph:-

              “Adaptive parenting equipment”, includes any piece of equipment or any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the parenting capabilities of a parent with a disability.

              SECTION 4. Section 21 of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the eleventh paragraph the following paragraph:-

              “Disability”, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This definition shall be broadly interpreted, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

              SECTION 5. Section 21 of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the twenty second paragraph the following paragraph:-

              “Supportive parenting services”, services that help parents with a disability compensate for those aspects of the disability that affect their ability to care for their children and that will enable them to discharge their parental responsibilities. The term includes, but is not limited to, specialized or adapted training, evaluations, and assistance with effective use of adaptive equipment, as well as accommodations that allow a parent with a disability to benefit from other services, such as braille text or sign language interpreters.”

              SECTION 6. Chapter 119 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 24 the following section:-

              Section 24A. Nothing in this chapter shall allow a parent’s disability, as defined in section 21 of this chapter, to be considered a factor in a determination whether a child is in need of care and protection or for the removal of custody of a child from a parent, guardian, or other custodian, absent a specific showing by clear and convincing evidence made by the Department, that there is a nexus between the parent’s disability and alleged harm to the child, and that this alleged harm cannot be prevented or alleviated by accommodations for the disability, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              If the court considers a parent’s disability as a factor in determining that a child is in need of care and protection or for the removal of custody of a child from a parent, guardian, or other custodian, the court shall make specific written findings as to the nexus between the parent’s disability and harm to the child, the impact this has on current parental fitness, and whether or not adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services can alleviate said harm or render the parent fit.

              SECTION 7. Section 3 of chapter 210 is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (c)(xii), as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

              Section 3 (c)(xii). a failure of a parent to discharge parental responsibilities, that is reasonably likely to continue for a prolonged, indeterminate period, and that results in harm to the child, and cannot be alleviated by adequate accommodations, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              SECTION 8. Chapter 210 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 3B the following section:-

              Section 3C. For the purposes of this chapter the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:-

              “Adaptive parenting equipment”, includes any piece of equipment or any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the parenting capabilities of a parent with a disability.

              “Disability”, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This definition shall be broadly interpreted, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

              “Supportive parenting services”, services that help parents with a disability compensate for those aspects of the disability that affect their ability to care for their children and that will enable them to discharge their parental responsibilities. The term includes, but is not limited to, specialized or adapted training, evaluations, and assistance with effective use of adaptive equipment, as well as accommodations that allow a parent with a disability to benefit from other services, such as braille text or sign language interpreters.

              Nothing in this chapter shall allow a parent’s disability to be considered a factor in determining whether to terminate parental rights, absent a specific showing by clear and convincing evidence made by the Department, that there is a nexus between the parent’s disability and alleged harm to the child, and that this alleged harm cannot be prevented or alleviated by accommodations for the disability, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              If the court considers a parent’s disability as a factor in determining whether to terminate parental rights, the court shall make specific written findings as to the nexus between the parent’s disability and harm to the child, the impact this has on current parental fitness, and whether or not adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services can alleviate said harm or render the parent fit.

              SECTION 9. Section 5-101 of said chapter 190B, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting before the first paragraph the following paragraph:-

              “Adaptive parenting equipment”, includes any piece of equipment or any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the parenting capabilities of a parent with a disability.

              SECTION 10. Section 5-101 of said chapter 190B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the fourth paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-

              “Disability”, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This definition shall be broadly interpreted, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

              SECTION 11. Section 5-101 of said chapter 190B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the twenty fourth paragraph the following paragraph:-

              “Supportive parenting services”, services that help parents with a disability compensate for those aspects of the disability that affect their ability to care for their children and that will enable them to discharge their parental responsibilities. The term includes, but is not limited to, specialized or adapted training, evaluations, and assistance with effective use of adaptive equipment, as well as accommodations that allow a parent with a disability to benefit from other services, such as braille text or sign language interpreters.

              SECTION 12. Chapter 190B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section

              5-204 the following section:-

              Section 5-204A. Nothing in this chapter shall allow a parent’s disability to be considered a factor in determining whether to appointment a temporary or permanent guardian for a minor child, absent a specific showing by a clear and convincing evidence made by the party raising the allegation, that there is a nexus between the parent’s disability and alleged harm to the child, and that this alleged harm cannot be prevented or alleviated by accommodations for the disability, including adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services. 

              If the court considers a parent’s disability as a factor in a determination whether to appoint a temporary or permanent guardian for a minor child, the court shall make specific written findings as to the nexus between the parent’s disability and harm to the child, the impact this has on current parental fitness, and whether or not adaptive parenting equipment or supportive parenting services can alleviate said harm or render the parent fit.

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