Lived Experience and Disability Justice in the Family Regulation System

21 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2021 Last revised: 25 Jan 2022

Date Written: October 24, 2021


In the family regulation system, the label of disability is used to strip parents of rights and credibility, and the system itself—along with the actors within it—fails to understand the nature of disability while simultaneously espousing and adopting harmful stereotypes of disability to conclude that disabled parents cannot parent. Those who resist diagnosis with a disability are denigrated as being unable to understand themselves and their children by reason of disability. Those who do have disabilities are penalized for exhibiting behaviors relating to their disabilities. By presenting the lived experience of one parent in the family regulation system who has been labeled as having a psychiatric disability, we expose how regardless of a parents’ disability status, once saddled with a disability label, their experience in family court is irrevocably marred. This Essay explores how the forces of racism and ableism converge to create the ongoing pathology of parents with disabilities and those who have been labeled as disabled in the family regulation system. Specifically, we share one co-author’s experiences of the system as both disabling and inequitable.

Keywords: disability; disability justice; family regulation; child welfare; parental rights

Suggested Citation

Lorr, Sarah H., Lived Experience and Disability Justice in the Family Regulation System (October 24, 2021). Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Forthcoming, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 702, Available at SSRN:

Sarah H. Lorr (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
11201-3631 (Fax)

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