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In re Marriage of Carney

Supreme Court of California
598 P.2d 36 (Cal. 1979)


William (plaintiff) and Ellen (defendant) Carney were married and had two children. William and Ellen separated, but did not formally divorce, and Ellen relinquished custody of the children to William. Subsequently, William was in an accident and became a paraplegic as a result. The children visited William several times a week in the veterans’ hospital, where he was recovering. William then filed a petition for divorce. Ellen filed a motion for custody of the children. Ellen had not visited the children once after the couple’s separation until two days before the hearing—a period of about five years, almost the children’s entire lives. During that five-year period, Ellen did not financially support the children. The trial court ordered that the children be taken away from William and custody be awarded to Ellen. In doing so, the trial court placed significant weight on William’s physical health and its effect on his ability to raise the children. William appealed. 

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)

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