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Does quadriplegic have right to visit kids?

March 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A woman left paralyzed while giving birth fights her ex-husband in court for the right to see her triplets.

The controversial custody fight over the triplets is playing out in a downtown L.A. courtroom. Lawyers on both sides say the ruling could have implications for other disabled parents. A judge is expected to make a temporary ruling on custody Friday morning.

In a nutshell, does a divorced parent that is incapacitated still have the right to visit with his or her children?

"He's not opposed to them seeing their mother. What he is opposed to is co-parenting with his former in-laws," said Vicki Green, attorney for Dan Dorn, the children's father.

"All we want is for Abbie to be able to know her children and have an ongoing and full relationship with them to the best of her ability," said Lisa Helfend-Meyer, attorney for Abbie Dorn, the children's mother.

Abbie Dorn, cared for by her mother, Susan Cohen, gave birth to triplets at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center nearly five years ago.

During the birth of the third child a doctor nicked her uterus. As she bled out, she suffered brain damage from a stroke.

She is now a quadriplegic. She can no longer talk, and she communicates now through blinking her eyes. A multimillion-dollar settlement pays for her care.

The question being argued: Does Abbie Dorn still have the right to visit her kids?

Ex-husband Dan Dorn has custody of the children and they live in Southern California. Abbie Dorn lives with her parents in South Carolina. According to his attorney, Dan Dorn has concerns over the children visiting their mother and grandparents back east.

"Grandparents, no matter how much they love, cannot instill their parental beliefs on the triplets. They are not their children," said Green.

"We believe that to deny these children the right and the opportunity to have a relationship with their mother will have a substantial and lasting negative effect on the children's welfare," said Helfend-Meyer.

The judge's decision is scheduled to be announced Friday morning. It is an interim decision. After the judgment is announced, both sides will have to work on a date for a trial to get the case settled once and for all.