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Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother loses custody of her children - because she has breast cancer



Mother loses custody of her children - because she has breast cancer
By Daily Mail Reporter


Last updated at 7:05 PM on 9th May 2011






A woman with terminal breast cancer says she has lost custody of her children because doctors do not know how long she will live.


A judge ruled that 37-year-old Alaina Giordano, from Durham, North Carolina, must give up both her children to her estranged husband after she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.

The decision comes after a bitter legal battle that has included allegations of cheating and other domestic problems.

Mrs Giordano said she is ‘devastated’ and that her children are what gives her strength.

The mother-of-two was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007, but her condition has worsened as it has spread on her bones.

After their marriage fell apart, her husband Kane Snyder, 37, sought to gain full custody of their children Sofia, 11, and Bud, 5.

He asked the judge that the children be moved to live with him in Chicago, where he is working as a leadership associate at Sears.

Durham County Family Court judge Nancy Gordon ruled that Mr Snyder should get the children after a psychiatrist recommended that they should live with him because of the ‘deteriorating condition of the mother’s health’.

The ruling also noted that Mrs Giordano is not currently employed. She had been working as a freelance writer and editor.

‘On April 25, we went in to get the ruling, it was pretty shocking,’ said Mrs Giordano.

‘Anybody who knows me knows my children are my life,’ she told ABC News.

‘They are what give me strength and part of the reason I’m doing so well.’

On her campaign blog, she claimed: 'Because I have a cancer diagnosis, I have spent the last sixteen months in court defending myself from the attacks of my abusive husband who filed a lawsuit against me in Durham County, NC asking for full, permanent custody of our two children using the argument that I have a cancer diagnosis.

'He then chose to move to the Chicago area to take a job at Sears Holdings, Inc. leaving our children in my sole physical custody since August 2010.'

'How does a woman with no kids and who has never been married become a judge in family court?' she wrote on her blog.

'From some of the things that she wrote in the order, it is clear that she has no insight into motherhood, marriage or an intimate partner relationship.

'This judge is trying to use theory to make decisions upon which she has no practical experience. This is very dangerous.

'A mother would know better than to rip happy, well-adjusted children from their mother who has been their primary caregiver since conception and send them to a father who was a weekend dad at best.

Every child deserves better than a judge with no parenting experience.'

The ruling states that Mrs Giordano must hand over her children to her estranged husband on June 17.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Custody-Prompted Double-Murder



Man charged in execution-style murders of ex-wife and her father

Orange County prosecutors allege that he waited to shoot them at his Costa Mesa home just hours after losing custody of the couple's 7-year-old daughter, who was sent out for ice cream with his current wife.

By Lauren Williams and Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times

May 6, 2011

A Costa Mesa man has been charged with the execution-style murders of his ex-wife and her father after allegedly waiting to kill them at his home just hours after she was awarded sole custody of their 7-year-old daughter.

The slayings shocked neighbors in the quiet residential neighborhood not far from South Coast Plaza, where prosecutors allege the gunman chased his victims into the street Tuesday evening as he reloaded his weapon and continued to fire as they lay bleeding on the ground.

Robert Lehmann, 36, was charged Wednesday with two counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for using a weapon, lying in wait and committing multiple murders, according to the Orange County district attorney's office. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 24.

His ex-wife, Emily Ford, 32, who worked as a preschool aide at a nearby school, had arrived at Lehmann's home on Santa Clara Circle to pick up the child with her father, Russell Ford, 62. The mother had left her 3-month-old son, who is not Lehmann's child, in a car seat inside her vehicle.

Earlier in the day, Emily Ford had been awarded sole custody and sole decision-making powers regarding the education of her daughter after Lehmann failed to appear at a custody trial, according to records filed in Orange County Superior Court.

Lehmann was angry about the custody order and, before his ex-wife arrived, sent the daughter and his current wife out to buy an ice cream, prosecutors said. As he opened the door, he allegedly began shooting at Emily Ford and her father. They ran into the street, with Lehmann following them.

"Lehmann is accused of pursuing them outside and continuing to shoot," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. "As Emily Ford and Russell Ford lay bleeding on the ground, Lehman is accused of reloading his firearm and executing the victims by shooting them repeatedly in the back and back of the head."

Shots streaked past the vehicle containing Emily Ford's baby and struck cars across the street, where parents had parked to pick up their children at a day-care center. No other injuries were reported.

Afterward, police cordoned off parts of Lehmann's modest, single-story house with yellow crime scene tape. A thin trail of blood had dried and was crusted on the path that led to the well-manicured lawn.

A brown truck parked in the driveway had the license plate "Dady ♥ AJ."

Marco Antonio Arroyo, who lives two homes away, said the family always seemed very happy.

Lehmann's daughter often played outside the home, Arroyo said, adding that her father was always very affectionate with her.

"I would have never imagined," Arroyo said. "Never! I never saw anything contrary. They always seemed happy."

The girl is a special-needs student who attends Sonora Elementary School in Costa Mesa, officials said.

Emily Ford was a special-education preschool instructional aide who worked with autistic children at Paularino Elementary School in Costa Mesa. She also waited tables part-time at Morton's steakhouse in Santa Ana, court records show.

Colleagues at the school described Ford as engaging and well liked by the staff.

"She was a wonderful, nice lady who always had a smile on her face," said Principal Stacy Lynne de Boom-Howard. "She was very happy with where her life was. She was in a very happy relationship."

Russell Ford was an educator with the Santa Ana Unified School District from 1978 to 2010.

Court records show that the custody battle began amicably when the couple separated in 2004 after 10 months of marriage. But tensions surfaced when Emily Ford wanted a divorce and was set to remarry in 2009, according to court documents filed by her attorney.

Lehmann worked for Hewlett-Packard Co. as a "solution architect," according to court papers, and grossed more than $13,000 a month.

In 2009, Ford alleged in the court filings, Lehmann threatened to stall the divorce unless she reached an agreement with him outside of court on custody and support issues.

The records show that Lehmann questioned Ford's parenting skills, saying that their daughter had gotten scratches while on the school playground,

In the end, the court sided with Ford and ordered her to pick up the daughter from Lehmann's house at 6 p.m. Tuesday — the same time she was killed.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

robert.lopez@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times