Should the illness of one or both parents seeking child custody be considered when determining the best of interest of the children involved? A recent case says the answer is yes.
A mother recently lost a child custody battle for her two children, but not because she was an unfit mother. Instead, she has also been battling breast cancer. Based on the concern regarding the mother's ongoing cancer battle, the judge awarded custody of the two children, an 11-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, to the father.
Although the judge apparently granted shared custody to the former couple, the children are required to relocate to Chicago in order to live with their father. They had been living in North Carolina with their mother. As a result, unless the mother moves to Illinois, she will effectively not be able to share in the custody of her children.
Although she would be willing to move to Illinois to be closer to them, she explains that she has trusted doctors and a support system in North Carolina that she relies upon with respect to her illness.
The mother understands that her disease is a concern, and that she does not know how long she is going to live. On the other hand, she argues that no one knows how long they will live, and she does not think that it should be relevant to the custody dispute. She argues that health problems do not necessarily make her any less capable of caring for her children. She believes that this case sets an unfortunate precedent for any parent seeking custody of their child when the parent may be suffering from an illness.
The woman has two weeks to appeal the decision, but she is not sure if she will do so for financial reasons. Otherwise, the children are slated to move to Chicago in June, and the mother will have to consider her options of moving herself or having very little, if any, contact with her children.
Source: LongIslandPress.com, "NC Mom Loses Child Custody Dispute Due to Cancer," Timothy Bolger, 11 May 2011