Mothers with Disabilities

37 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2019

See all articles by Nicole B. Porter

Nicole B. Porter

University of Toledo College of Law

Date Written: January 28, 2018


This paper explores the intersection of three marginalized groups: women, mothers, and individuals with disabilities. At the same time, it also explores the intersection of two different areas of law — family law and employment law. I argue that mothers with disabilities are triply disadvantaged in the workplace — they are disadvantaged because they are women, because they have disabilities, and because they likely have caregiving responsibilities. This disadvantage stems from the stereotypes attributed to these groups and because workplaces are structured around an able-bodied, masculine norm. Mothers with disabilities are also disadvantaged in the areas of marriage, reproduction, divorce, and custody. Women with disabilities are less likely to get married and have children. Those who become disabled after marriage are more likely to get divorced. Upon divorce, mothers with disabilities are much more likely to experience difficulty maintaining custody of their children. And mothers with disabilities often face interference by the state with their parenting relationship, including the possible termination of their parental rights. In this paper, I explore the particularly precarious position facing those who live at the intersection of multiple identities — women, mothers, and individuals with disabilities.

Keywords: Discrimination, Disability, Family Law, ADA, Children, Workplace

Suggested Citation

Porter, Nicole B., Mothers with Disabilities (January 28, 2018). Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Vol. 33, No. 75, 2018, University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-, Available at SSRN:

Nicole B. Porter (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
419-530-4785 (Phone)

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