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Mother denied primary custody because of breast cancer

Divorce and separation are things many Colorado couples go through. When couples who split are parents, determining child custody is a major part of the process. In a recent case, a mother was denied primary custody of her children because she has breast cancer, and many have criticized the judge's ruling.

After stating that it is unclear how the mother will be affected by her disease and that children need more contact with their father because he is not ill, a judge ruled that the children's father will be the primary custodian.

The father lives in Chicago and the mother lives in North Carolina, where she is being treated for breast cancer by a team of physicians. The judge allowed the woman to see her children on holidays and weekends, but the woman says she cannot afford regular flights to Chicago.

The children, 5 and 11, currently live with their mother in North Carolina, but will move to Chicago to live with their father next month. Their mother disagreed with the judge's decision, saying it is unfair to award custody based on the uncertainty of how long she will live. She stated that no one knows how long they will live, so it doesn't make sense to take her children from her because of her cancer, which doctors say has stabilized and is not progressing.

Now, following this ruling, some are asking whether a disease like cancer should be so influential in a custody decision. Some experts say that limiting the time a child can spend with a parent just because he or she is ill could have negative effects on the child's mental stability. They may not have a good understanding of what is wrong with the sick parent or why they are not allowed to be around him or her all the time.

The mother in this case plans to appeal the ruling.

Source: ABC News, "Judge Cites Mom's Breast Cancer in Denying Custody of Children," Courtney Hutchison, 10 May 2011

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