We first saw the BIG news of the day at The Art of Divorce blog which linked to an AP story reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to block a lesbian woman from pursuing a custody claim to a child conceived by her partner through artificial donor insemination. The case arises from Washington state, and the state court opinion holding there is a common law right of defacto parents to pursue custody is linked here. We don't yet have the U.S. Supreme Court opinion, but it's all over the news, the International Herald Tribune, Seattle Post Intelligence, and you can subscribe to the latest with Google Alerts.
It was interesting to see that Courtney Joslin wrote an amicus brief at the Washington State Supreme Court level. She is with the National Center of Lesbian Rights and is counsel, pro hac vice, in the case pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court, which we digested previously and which is posted below. Maybe now that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion, the Kentucky pending matter will be rebriefed or reargued? We'll report more after reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court case.
B.F. v. T.D.; 2005 WL 857093
Not final - discretionary review granted by Kentucky Supreme
Court in custody case between same sex parents, qualification
as de facto custodian and constitutional right to cross-examination.
This case involved same sex parents. Because Kentucky law does not permit joint adoption by same sex couples, T.D. alone adopted the child. T.D. became the sole "natural parent" but both mothers raised the child and contributed to the child's financial, emotional and physical care. B.F provided the majority of the financial support while T.D. was more involved with the child's daily activities. When the relationship dissolved, T.D. left the home taking the child with her and refused to allow B.F. to have contact. B.F. filed a petition seeking joint custody and visitation.
Judge Garvey granted B.F. temporary, supervised visitation and scheduled a hearing solely on the issue of whether B.F. qualified as a de facto custodian. The court limited the hearing to two hours and refused counsel's request for cross-examination.
The Court of Appeals affirmed that two hours was sufficient to establish de facto custodianship because of the limited elements outlined in KRS 403.270.
Similarly, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judge's refusal of her request for cross examination, holding that the constitutional rights for confrontation is only guaranteed in criminal cases, CR 43 does not mention the right to cross-examination and KRE 611 only states that a party "may" be cross-examined.
The Court of Appeals also affirmed the trial court finding that B.F. did not qualify as a de facto custodian because Consalvi v. Cawood held that to qualify as a de facto custodian an individual must be the primary caregiver.