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The primary caregiver of a child is most often the one to whom child custody is awarded in divorce and separation matters. California residents who have gone through a divorce know that the custody decision can be one of the most difficult in a case. However, as one recent story shows, child custody matters can arise outside of divorce as well.

California readers will be interested to learn about the case of a man who lost custody of his children as a result of his deportation. The custody was awarded to the man's wife and the mother of the children, despite her diagnosed mental illness at the time of his deportation. Nevertheless, the man has continued to fight for custody since his deportation.

The father of the three children was deported to Mexico two years ago, even though immigration policy supposedly favors releasing primary caretakers. Authorities acknowledge he had no time to make arrangements for the children or even to say goodbye. All evidence suggests that while in the United States, the father was the primary caregiver of the children, largely due to the mental illness of the mother. Shortly after his deportation, the children were placed in foster care programs after first being placed with the American-born mother.

Like other parents who have been deported, the father has been unable to visit his children or his wife since leaving the country. Often, reports suggest, parents are not even aware of the whereabouts of their children after a deportation. This can make the fight for child custody a much greater challenge.

In this matter, the father is working through representatives here in the United States to try to obtain custody of his children. Like many parents, he wishes to be the primary caregiver of his children. While it remains to be seen how this matter will be resolved, it highlights issues surrounding separation of children from primary caretakers when immigration proceedings intervene. His hope is to be reunited with the children in Mexico after being awarded child custody, and he is continuing to press his argument that the best interests of the children would be best served if he regains custody.

Source: Fox News Latino, "Deportation Often Means Losing Custody of US-Born Children," March 12, 2012

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