This article provides an overview of how the law at the time of publication treated HIV-positive parents involved in custody disputes in family court. The author, an attorney with South Brooklyn Legal Services, draws on her own experience representing clients, almost all of whom were poor women of color, in cases involving their HIV status in relation to custody of their children. The author also identifies and analyzes several cases that highlight how challenging it can be for an HIV-positive parent lost in the abyss of the family court system. The discussion includes the impact of HIV on women, HIV as a disability, disability as a factor in custody disputes, and the treatment of HIV-positive parents in New York family court. Based on her experience in family court, the author offers other advocates recommendations for effective representation of HIV-positive parents.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender and economic justice.