Mother’s cancer factored into custody dispute

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There are many questions raised in the mind of a parent diagnosed with cancer, such as will I live long enough to see my children grow into adults?

Another question is being raised in a child custody dispute involving a parent with cancer: will my illness be used against me in court?

The case we’re referring to involves a father who lives next door to Missouri in Illinois and his 37-year-old ex-wife, who lives in North Carolina.

She has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She recently suffered another blow when she lost primary custody of the couple’s two children, an 11-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son.

She retains custody at the moment, but the court ordered her to send the children to live with their father in the Chicago area on June 17.

One of the factors cited by the court in its decision was the mother’s health and doubts about her life expectancy.

Her cancer has spread to other parts of her body, doctors have told her, though patients in her condition can live for years.

A Los Angeles Times article on the case points out that the mother’s health problems are just one facet of a “complicated and messy custody case with a high degree of conflict.” Both parents are said to have issues controlling their anger; both were one time arrested after a fight; both have obtained protection orders.

Since the court’s controversial ruling citing the mother’s illness as a factor, more than 100,000 people have signed an online petition in support of her. And family law attorneys around the nation have reported fielding calls from divorced parents suffering health problems worried that they, too, could lose their children in a similar custody battle.

Source: Los Angeles Times: “Woman’s cancer a factor in complex custody case” by Julie Deardorff: June 4, 2011