Report: Liz Edwards Wouldn't Want Kids with John

Updated: 6:30 PM, June 1: In an email to MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell, Elizabeth Edwards stated that she is not trying to deny John Edwards custody of their two younger children in the event of her death.

Elizabeth Edwards reportedly doesn't want her estranged husband, former presidential hopeful John Edwards, to raise their kids if she loses her battle with cancer.

But can a mother legally keep an estranged spouse from getting custody in that kind of situation?

The New York Daily News reported that Elizabeth is looking into whether the couple's 28-year-old daughter, Cate, can assume legal guardianship over their two youngest children, Jack and Emma. The newspaper reports that, if she dies from the breast cancer she's fighting, she doesn't want them raised by John.

Elizabeth's sister told the paper: "There a lot of family members who are willing and able" to take care of 10-year-old Jack and Emma, now 12.

Since Elizabeth announced her cancer had returned, John has admitted having an affair with his former campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter. He's also acknowledged he is the father of Hunter's now-2-year-old daughter.

Experts say the law does not appear to be on Elizabeth Edwards' side.

Myrna Felder, a divorce lawyer, told CBS News, "We see this all the time, with one parent trying through a will or other instrument not to have custody with the other parent, and it's very rarely successful."

But why wouldn't it likely work for Elizabeth Edwards?

Any move that denies children access to a surviving parent is usually not considered to be in the children's best interest, legal observers say.

Felder said, "Think about the children: They lose their mother. They need to have their father. You don't take away the second parent."

CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano said an exception could be if a parent was proven to be unfit. John Edwards is facing potential legal trouble: A grand jury is investigating whether he illegally funneled campaign funds to Hunter.