HIV positive status leads to child custody dispute

A Wichita mother, Donna Branom, learns she’ll get to see her kids again after being separated from them because her fiancé Henry Calderon, Jr. was HIV positive.

Donna had been enjoying joint custody with the father of her two children, aged 8 and 16, until Henry’s medical status as an HIV positive was known to her ex-husband. Her ex-husband was not prepared to have his children submitted to the risk of staying with an HIV positive, remarked Charlie Harris who represented Donna’s ex-husband.

Since Branom missed the first court date in June, because of accidentally writing down the wrong date, the judge automatically granted her ex-husband’s request. On June 22nd, Judge Maughn issued a court order upon review of the letter from the children’s doctor, Robin Walker, MD as well as on the basis of the information presented by the attorney:

“…which confirms that the person who the Respondent has chosen to move into her residence and who will therefore be in contact with the children of the parties is HIV Positive, and the Court finds that there is a risk of exposure of the children to HIV thru accidental contact with the individual that makes it not in their best interest to have contact with him.”

Judge Maughn further opined that Henry should have no contact with the children and that the mother, Donna should only have supervised visits with her children at a state run facility as long as Henry was living with her. Consequently, this left Donna with limited visitation rights to her kids.

Thereafter O’Hara and O’Hara took her case pro-bono last week and she went back to court hoping for a second chance. The judge finally ordered “that there is no risk to the children for them to become HIV positive,” although denying her request for some extra time with the kids to make up for the time they lost.

The decision rested majorly on a letter from a nationally known aids expert, Dr. Donna Sweet, of Wichita, which indicated that there was no record of anyone ever contracting HIV from casual family contact.

Branom will now start seeing her children again.

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