Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms of Service

Challenges of Disabled Parents Seeking Custody or Visitation - Abbie Dorn Case

  • Published: 2011-06-16 : Author: Dominion Law Group, LLP
  • Synopsis: Case of paralyzed semiconscious mother of three who according to her parents is being denied a relationship with the children whose delivery nearly killed her.

Main Document

The lengthy legal battle of a disabled mother to see her three children highlights the disadvantages parents with disabilities have in custody disputes.

Earlier this year a California judge heard the tragic case of a paralyzed, semiconscious mother of three who, according to her parents, is being denied a relationship with the children whose delivery nearly killed her.

Three years ago, expectant mother Abbie Dorn headed to the hospital in labor with triplets. While two of the children were delivered without incident, before the third could be born, the doctor inadvertently slashed Ms. Dorn's uterus while performing a Cesarean section. The resulting blood loss caused heart failure, and malfunctioning medical equipment prevented her heart from being restarted quickly enough to minimize damage to her brain. Today Ms. Dorn is totally reliant upon her parents and other caregivers because the severe brain damage she suffered left her paraplegic, basically uncommunicative and in a persistent semiconscious state.

Following the advice of doctors that his wife would never recover, Ms. Dorn's husband, Dan Dorn, filed for divorce and is raising their three children alone in his home in Los Angeles. The children have not been in contact with their mother for any extended period during their short lives. Abbie Dorn's parents - acting on her behalf - filed a lawsuit seeking visitation with the children. They claim that Ms. Dorn - while admittedly nonverbal - can communicate with facial gestures and a series of eye blinks and that she has the mental capacity necessary to have a meaningful relationship with the children.

Dan Dorn disagrees, however, and fears that since the children are so young they could be permanently traumatized by the sight of their mother's weakened body and the various machines that keep her alive. He also fears that they wouldn't understand why she couldn't speak with them.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick C. Shaller recently provided a tentative ruling that would give her annual in-person visitation with the children and monthly video conferencing. He reasoned that the mere fact that Ms. Dorn is disabled - even though her disability is obviously severe - does not necessarily make her an unfit parent who does not deserve to spend time with her children.

This ruling might give hope to disabled parents around the country who are fighting to maintain a relationship with their children. Whether or not you are disabled, if you are in the middle of a child custody or visitation dispute, seek the advice of a skilled family law attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Article provided by Dominion Law Group, LLP - Visit us at

Similar Topics

1 : UPS to Pay $2M to Resolve Nationwide EEOC Disability Discrimination Claims : U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
2 : Diallo's Nightclub Sued: Fired Employee for Not Providing HIV Test Result : U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
3 : Joyce Banda Promotes Disability Rights at Washington Harkin Summit : Ngulinga Banda.
4 : Disability Hate Crime Within the UK - Estimated Incident Rates Not Decreasing : Paul Dodenhoff.
5 : Reintroducing 'Hate' Back Into 'Hate Crime': Hate Crime Committed Against Intellectual Disability : Paul Dodenhoff.
From our Discrimination section - Full List (80 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : Fighting My Cancer as Much as Possible - Why Many Patients Join Phase 1 Clinical Trials
2 : Social Stigma Can Stand in the Way of Food Insecurity Screening
3 : Being a Clone of Itself May Make Toenail Fungus Vulnerable to New Treatments
4 : How Often Do Medical Problems Lead to Bankruptcy?
5 : Videocamp Launches $400,000 Fund and Challenges Filmmakers to Create a Film About Inclusive Education


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.