The Chicago Family Law Blog

Aliana Giordano Denied Custody Because Of Breast Cancer?

Many Chicago locals may have heard about the controversial child custody battle involving Aliana Giordano, whose diagnosis for terminal breast cancer had a significant effect on her case.

ABC News reported a North Carolina District Court judge decided not to give Giordano primary custody over her two children. Instead, the judge ruled that the children should move from their Durham, N.C. home to Chicago and live with their father, Kane Synder, beginning June 17, 2011.

While Giordano's unemployment was cited as a factor in the decision, the judge also stated that "children who have a parent with cancer need more contact with the non-ill parent," especially since in Giordano's case, "the course of her disease is unknown."

Giordano and Synder will have shared custody of their 11-year-old daughter Sofia and their 5-year-old son Bud. However, Giordano may be restricted to only weekend and holiday visitation if she chooses to reside in Durham, where she receives treatment at the Duke Cancer Institute, although she said she cannot afford the airfare needed to visit her kids.

"It makes no sense to take them away from me because you don't know how long I'm going to live," said Giordano, who has stage 4 breast cancer. "Everybody dies and none of us knows when ... This is a particularly dangerous ruling to base a custody case on a diagnosis."

Some Chicago residents may also wonder, should cancer affect child custody?

Well, it is actually not uncommon for a family court to take a parent's physical and mental health into account in keeping with the Uniform and Marriage and Divorce Act, writes ABC News. Although Aliana Giordano and Kane Synder's case is a rather complicated one, Giordano's cancer was not the only factor considered in the court's decision.

However, some are concerned with the notion of "protecting" a child from an ill parent. "Cancer is not leprosy ... young children want to be with their parents, even if ill," says Holly Prigerson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

To learn about your legal options in a case like this, seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

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