Monday, April 04, 2005

You've got a friend in Pennsylvania

In a bit of good news from the Family Law front, it appears as though common sense has actually prevailed in a child custody/visitation dispute. Considering the stories I hear from my mother (a legal assistant in an office that handles a lot of divorce/custody/visitation/child support cases), my friends and co-workers, I'd begun to think common sense was never applied in family court.

A couple in a long-term relationship were raising a daughter together. The little girl was the biological child of LRM (the child has no relationship with the biological father). For the 3 years they were together, LRM's partner TB took on full parenting responsibilities playing an integral part in daily child-rearing activities. The couple split in 1996 after which LRM refused to allow TB to visit their daughter. LRM proceeded to spend years doing everything possible to alienate TB from her daughter and then used the alienation as crux of her case against allowing any visitation. Lower courts actually ruled that LRM's success in creating the alienation was a legitimate reason to refuse TB the right to visitation. The case recently made it to a 3 judge panel on PA Superior Court which, last month, rescinded the lower court ruling and immediately granted (guided) visitation between TB and the child.

The most amazing part of the ruling? Both TB and LRM are women and the statements of the Superior Court make it clear that a family is a family regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.

"Imagine a scenario where the same premise is applied to spouses," wrote Judge Michael T. Joyce in the court's uplifting ruling. "It is inconceivable that an embittered spouse who successfully estranges the children from the other spouse, to the point where the other spouse is unknown to the children, should be rewarded by a determination that it shall be in the best interest of the children not to have any relationship at all with the alienated spouse because of the custodial spouse's feelings," Judge Joyce continued. "The preposterousness of this scenario is equally applicable to the case at bar, despite [the non-biological lesbian mother's] non-traditional status."
Full story at Alternet.

Tags: ;;

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: