HOUSE BILL 96
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019
Tomás E. Salazar and Gregg Schmedes
RELATING TO FAMILIES; ENACTING THE BLIND PARENTS' RIGHTS ACT TO SPECIFY THE RIGHTS OF BLIND PARENTS IN MATTERS RELATING TO THE ACCESS TO OR THE CARE, CUSTODY OR CONTROL OF CHILDREN.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. [NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Blind Parents' Rights Act".
SECTION 2. [NEW MATERIAL] DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Blind Parents' Rights Act:
A. "blind parent" means a parent who:
(1) has a best corrected visual acuity that is worse than 20/100 in the better eye or a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field in the better eye is twenty degrees or less;
(2) has a degenerative condition that reasonably can be expected to result in a best corrected visual acuity that is worse than 20/100 in the better eye, or a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field in the better eye is twenty degrees or less; or
(3) is regarded as having a best corrected visual acuity that is worse than 20/100 in the better eye or a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field in the better eye is twenty degrees or less;
B. "child" means an individual who is under eighteen years of age and who, by reason of minority, is legally subject to parental control, guardianship, foster care or similar control;
C. "foster parent" means a person licensed or certified by the children, youth and families department or a child placement agency to provide care for children in the custody of the children, youth and families department or child placement agency;
D. "guardian" means a person authorized to provide care, custody or control of a child by:
(1) court or Indian tribal authority appointment; or
(2) parental appointment as permitted by law;
E. "parent" means a biological or adoptive parent of a child whose parental rights have not been terminated; and
F. "parental right" means a right to:
(1) adopt a child, through a state agency or through a private adoption service;
(2) custody of a child;
(3) visitation of a child;
(4) serve as guardian of a child; or
(5) serve as a foster parent.
SECTION 3. [NEW MATERIAL] BLIND PARENTS--PARENTAL RIGHTS.--
A. A blind parent's blindness shall not serve as a basis for denial or restriction of a parental right.
B. Where a blind parent's blindness is alleged to have a detrimental impact on the physical, mental or emotional welfare of a child, or where a blind parent's blindness is in any way a factor when determining a parental right, the party making the allegation bears the burden of proving the allegation by clear and convincing evidence. If this burden is met, the blind parent shall have the opportunity to rebut the allegation by demonstrating how the receipt of supportive parenting services can alleviate or mitigate any detrimental impact that the blind parent's blindness may have on a child.
C. If a court, state agency or other entity with jurisdiction limits or denies a blind parent's parental right, the court, state agency or other entity with jurisdiction shall make specific written findings setting forth the clear and convincing evidence for the determination and why the provision of supportive parenting services is not a reasonable accommodation that would serve to make that determination unnecessary. The court, state agency or other entity with jurisdiction shall also make a finding of fact as to the prospects for supportive parenting services to allow the blind parent to adequately parent the child in the future.
D. Nothing in the Blind Parents' Rights Act shall in any way be construed to limit or restrict any other right or remedy that a blind parent has in any administrative or court proceeding to oppose the termination or limitation of parental rights.
E. A blind parent who has been subject to a violation of the Blind Parents' Rights Act has the right to seek and recover reasonable attorney fees and costs, including fees and costs arising in a domestic relations matter in which a spouse or parent has alleged that a blind parent should be denied any parental right on the basis of the blind parent's blindness.
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