Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Ohio Supreme Court Severs Co-Parent Relationship

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 13, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gay parents, In re Mullen, Kelly Mullen, Michele Hobbs, Ohio Supreme Court, same-sex parents

citybeat.jpg>Back2Stonewall reports that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a same-sex parent is not a parent.

"Today, the Ohio Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision that, despite all of the evidence of co-parenting, the trial court did not err in deciding that Kelly did not agree to permanently share custody with Michele. The Court based its decision primarily on two factors: first, the documents in which Kelly named Michele as her co-parent were revocable; and second, the Court found that the term "co-parent" did not indicate a desire to share permanent custody."

Thus, a "parent" is not permanently a "parent," at least when it comes to this same-sex couple.

The decision, In re Mullen (Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-3361) negates the written document created by Kelly Mullen, naming Michele Hobbs as co-parent. According to the press release from Equality Ohio, "Although Ohio law allows for shared permanent custody without explicitly requiring a written agreement, the Court's decision today effectively makes such an agreement a requirement in the event of a breakup of same-sex couples in Ohio."

A dissenting opinion by Justice Paul Pfiefer stated:

"The law has not caught up to our culture, and this court has failed to craft a rule that addresses reality. . . . A maternal relationship existed between [Michele] and Lucy. [Kelly] taught her daughter to call another woman 'Momma' and to love her as a mother. She now wishes she hadn't, and for the majority, that's enough. It shouldn't be."

The background story can be found at CityBeat.

imgsrc City Beat via Progress Ohio

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This is yet another reason for marriage, at least for children born during the marriage.

I concur with the dissent - the person most harmed by the court's decision is the very child whose best interests the court should have held in the highest regard and provided the greatest protection.

This kind of decision hits me hard. Considering that my own divorce involved an effective severance of positive parental relations (not even visitation, and because of that we ended up with a post-decree stipulation for a lump sum settlement in which my ex got just about all the rest of the marital assets to make up for future support and maintenance an child support), I know what it feels from the severed-parent side (and I know the anger my children mistakenly direct at me over the divorce, from the little contact that has been made recently, and the way they've been manipulated).

Divorce, whether it's a formal or informal situation, is hell on children, though where the relationship has "fallen apart" (and even more so, where there is an abusivve relationship), children are often better off than when the parents stay together.

There are no easy answers - and I don't know all the facts. But based on what I see in the post, I think the Ohio Supreme Court is likely to have done a terrible disservice to that child, at least as bad as what happened to me in 1999.

This is a horrible decision and my heart goes out to Michelle. Shame on Kelly for removing someone so important from her child's life.

Well LGB's are always being tagged for being heteronomative for focusing on marriage rights.
It's pathetic to see a lesbian mother being as "normal" as heteros in divorce and custody.