Julie Rowell and Julie Smith were in a committed lesbian relationship during which Smith gave birth to Maddie. When the couple ended their relationship, Smith decided Rowell was not entitled to any further contact with the child.
Rowell filed a petition for joint custody and Smith fought it tooth and nail. On August 27, 2012, Judge Elizabeth Gill adopted the Magistrate's decision.
The court order also prohibits Smith from permanently removing Maddie from the State of Ohio without the witten consent of the court or Rowell.
This is another instance involving lesbians behaving badly. Rowell and Smith decided together to start a family. According to the court, Rowell was intimately involved in all aspects of parenting Maddie--from selecting the anonymous donor to participating in the insemination to cutting the umbilical cord--to caring for her while Smith was working. These were two involved parents whose primary focus was a little girl.
Smith, however, went to extraordinary lengths to deny Rowell's part in everything. Even to the point of denying their relationship. At least she is not claiming to be heterosexual.
One of the interesting parts of the decision involved a rather lengthy recitation of what the couple did not do. No wills, financial planning, disability insurance or provision for Maddie. Smith never executed a will or other estate planning documents until 2010.
Parents need to understand that while "life gets in the way", there is no excuse for failing to talk to a lawyer and take the necessary steps to have an estate plan in place. Smith's mother never acknowledged her daughter's relationship or sexual orientation. Had Smith died without a will or guardian provision, her mother could have been named Maddie's guardian. And, Rowell would have had a fight on her hands--the outcome of which is uncertain.
Now, Smith named her sister as Maddie's guardian. However, the court established Rowell's custody rights and, even if she cannot get custody, she has the right to maintain her relationship with Maddie.
All parents need to take whatever action is necessary to protect their children. Joint custody agreements, wills, trusts, guardian designations, financial planning, insurance policies--and make sure the beneficiary designations are current--are just part of the estate planning that is required.
Anything less ignores your child's needs at a time when she is most vulnerable.