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Mother with breast cancer loses child custody battle

In May we wrote about a mother from North Carolina with cancer who was battling to maintain child custody of her two children. Although the 37-year-old mother had lost the fight for primary custody in April, she has been trying to delay the 800-mile move of her children since that time. Last week the North Carolina State Supreme Court denied a stay on the child custody ruling which means her children will move-in with their father before school starts in August.

The 37-year-old mother is fighting stage 4 breast cancer and believes the state of her health was used to deny her custody of her two children; a 6-year-old boy and a 11-year-old girl. Doctors currently rate her condition as stable. The denial of the stay and the resulting move of the children will likely make it harder for the appeals case to be successful because a judge would probably not want to uproot the children again.

The father of the children lives in Chicago, Illinois. The mother, who lives in Durham, North Carolina plans to make as many holiday and weekend visits as possible. She will not be able to move closer because a clinical trial for an experimental treatment at Duke is not available in Chicago. As a result the mother said, "My children and I now must grieve the pending loss of each other."

In the ruling that awarded the father primary custody, the judge explained that the mother was denied primary custody because the course of her cancer is not known, the mother lacked a job and children who have a parent with cancer "need more contact with the non-ill parent." Allegations of domestic abuse, jail time, infidelity and restraining orders were also a part of the custody battle. Even so, the mother believes her health was unfairly used against her and is building a small movement against the use of medical bias in child custody rulings.

Source: ABC News, "North Carolina mom with breast cancer loses custody of kids," Courtney Hutchinson, Aug. 16, 2011

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