Making The Complex

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Did this child custody case rest on parental IQ levels?

Faced with a custody battle, many Louisiana residents prepare to argue over visitation schedules, decision-making responsibilities and matters of financial support. In some cases, however, a child custody fight is between the parents and state authorities. An example is found in the case of a couple from the Pacific Northwest who have lost custody of their children based on concerns about their intellect. That matter has led to debate across the nation about the limits of state authority in determining who should and should not be parents.

The case centers on a couple who lost their newborn son before they could even take him home from the hospital. According to state authorities, both parents have mental limitations that could impact their ability to provide a safe home for a child. Their older son, who is nearly five years of age, was also taken from their care just after his birth.

The mother is estimated to have an IQ level of 72. The father tested at an IQ level of 66, and is considered to be intellectually disabled. A normal IQ range for adults is between 90 and 110. There were no signs of abuse or neglect in the case; court documents simply stated that the parents have “limited cognitive abilities” that prevent them from being able to act as safe parents for their child.  

This child custody case is unusual in that it led to the termination of parental rights with absolutely no evidence of abuse or neglect. The decision to take this couple’s children away and make them available for adoption was made based on fears of what could occur, not evidence of what did occur. That is a frightening concept for parents in Louisiana and across the nation, and is viewed as an unacceptable approach by many.

Source:, “LATEST: Parents lose custody of kids due to low IQ“, Chelsea Todaro, Aug. 1, 2017


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