Lambda Legal submitted this amicus brief on behalf of an HIV-positive father who was engaged in a custody battle with his children’s maternal grandmother. Soon after the children’s mother died, the father was temporarily unable to care for his children due to illness and the children stayed with the grandmother during that time. The grandmother then filed for custody citing the father’s lack of fitness to care for his children, based on “extraordinary circumstances,” as grounds for her petition.
As background, the brief provides descriptions of the HIV virus, how it’s transmitted, and how it’s treated. The brief then makes the case that HIV-positive parents pose no threat to their children as a result of their HIV and that courts should not interfere with the parental rights of a fit parent because of the parent’s disability. Parents with disabilities are entitled to a presumption of parental custody that may be challenged only by a showing of extraordinary circumstances, which did not exist in this case.