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Soon To Be Wed, Couple With Disabilities Sue To Live Together


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As they prepare for their wedding, a New York couple with special needs is headed to court to fight for the opportunity to live together once they become husband and wife.

Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels are getting married this weekend. But the couple — who live in separate group homes three miles apart in Manorville, N.Y. — don’t know if they will be able to live together even after exchanging wedding vows.

A lawyer for Forziano and Samuels says that administrators at the group homes where the two currently live have said they will not allow the couple to move in together after their nuptials.

Now the couple and their families have filed a federal lawsuit. At the very least, their attorney is asking the court to require that the group homes allow Forziano and Samuels to spend more time together during the day and evenings while their case proceeds.

“They just have a business model. They want to spend their money certain ways and if it doesn’t fit, well then the individuals lose out,” the bride’s father, Norman Samuels, told News 12 Long Island about the group homes. To read more click here.

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. VMGillen says:

    Here in New York these people are entitled to involvement by NYS Mental Health Legal Services. The issue is not whether or not they can marry – they can. See the case of Burt and Barbara, former Willowbrook residents who fought for YEARS, and won. The Agency now has them living in a senior complex, with their own apartment. The same could be done for these two. The problem is undoubtedly one of money – all to often money follws the Agency, rather than the person. And that, folks, illustrates just how poorly the proposed chages to the OPWDD programs will perform. If we have problems with non-profits acting as capitalist enterprises, imagine how bad things will be when unabashed for-profit entities are involved!

  2. GLORIA GOLDEN says:

    I think the couple getting married should be able to live together! I have a daughter with Down Syndrome and her wish for as long as I can remember is to get married. If she met the right young man I would be glad to let her marry. Group homes have a habit of making the residents fit into their program, rather than fitting the program to meet the needs of the residents. My daughter has lived in three group homes. I felt she was becoming less independent in the homes, rather than more independent. Now she shares her own apartment with another challenged young lady. If one’s expectations are high, not low, people do often live up to your high expectations. My daughter, Sara, can cook, clean the apt. and live by herself.

  3. AlWBrown says:

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit really! Two people who love each other should be able to live in the same group home if they are married point blank. ESPECIALLY if they are paying patients.

    Don’t have the money for that group home? Maybe they need to relocate?

  4. JoanneQ says:

    @ AIWBrown: I believe you misunderstand – it’s not the persons involved who are having a problem with an individual group home; it’s that “administrators at the group homes where the two currently live have said they will not allow the couple to move in together” despite their being married.

    How terrible is it that administrators at group homes (by definition where a group of people live together!) will not allow this couple to live together in one or the other!

  5. Susan says:

    This is totally rediculous that a state run, business model, facility can decide whether or not these two get to live together after they are married. In CA, they could live together if they wanted to, married or not. (Not that I believe in living in sin.) But these two are adults and have their family even supporting them in this decision. I cannot believe in this day and age that something like this has to go to court! They should be allowed to live in their own apartment with staff providing as much or as little support as needed. Congratulations and Good luck to them!!!

  6. F Dang says:

    I don’t see why the couple can’t live together in their own apartment. Contract with an agency that provides Independent Living Skills assistance to help support the couple in living independently. They can be taught to budget, pay their own rent, maintain their own apartment, prepare their own food, shop for what they need.
    Agencies should support individuals so that they can mainstream back into the community, not individual with disabilities provide a source of income for agencies and their workers.

  7. RosemaryC says:

    I thought the news program says they are living in group homes, not jails. If they are in IRAs (at IGHL and Maryhaven as reported), then they should have service coordinators who were supposed to be developing plans for them. If the couple has been together for 8 years, the service coordinators should have seen this day coming and planned accordingly. To tie up court time for something that is a basic human right (living together with a spouse) is almost as laughable as looking at this story in the context of the agencies’ mission statements.

  8. annie says:

    Even nursing homes will make a big deal out of this kind of thing with elderly couples who’ve been married for decades. Sometimes they want to occupy the same space in a facility after one partner is too ill to live independently and the home will say no, or delay it by several months. Money and administrative complications should never come between a married couple like that, once you’re legally bound to someone, I think things should be obligated to work around the marriage not between it.

  9. JoAnn says:

    First of all I believe in marriage but to have 2 with special needs that require total supervision should not be married.I have 2 daughters with developmental disabilities and one needs 24 hour supervision and lives in a group home.I also believe that if the parent’s would just allow MSC workers figure out a plan for this couple to live together then wait it out.For the parents to force these 2 to live in group homes that have other individuals already in them and your arrogance believes that Maryhaven or IGHL should make room is un fair to the individuals and direct care takers to deal with issue that WILL Arise here.They are married and being so will share a bed and should not this be private parents? Wait for the agencies to provide proper placement without bashing the agencies .If you cannot wait then please accommidate your kids by providing an apartment and having care givers over see them in their own dwelling.Marriage is wonderful,but also private.There are many concerns for me here,what if the groom thinks he can touch other girls? Think before you jump on this.I hope the judge rules in favor of the agencies.No one says they cannot be married you as the parents could have held off until private housing was established instead of forcing the agencies into court.Think of all the indiviuals who live the the homes as well it is not about you and your kids only.Respect other families and the indivuals in the homes.

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