Utah Court Upholds Mother’s Rights over Former Lesbian Partner
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 29, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Utah court has ruled that a 2-year-old child's right to be raised by his biological mother outweighs the demands of a woman who sought parental rights based on a previous lesbian relationship with the mother.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Frank D. Mylar represented the boy and his mother, who has converted to Christianity and is now married.
"The fundamental rights of parents to raise children the way they see fit should not be threatened by the wishes and desires of a legal stranger," said Mylar. "The court correctly ruled that this little boy's right to his mother under state law is of far greater value than the wishes of someone who has no legal relationship to the child."
In 2006, Jana Dickson gave birth to her son while in a relationship with Gena-Louise Edvalson. After their break-up in 2007, Edvalson sued for parental rights to the child relying upon a non-legal "agreement" the two women had made during their relationship.
The court dismissed the lawsuit, Edvalson v. Dickson, ruling that state public policy designed to protect the best interests of children trumps any such "agreements," particularly when there are no allegations of abuse or neglect.
"The Utah Supreme Court has held that contracts that offend public policy are void. ... Therefore, while people are generally free to bind themselves to any contract, those contracts which are contrary to public policy are illegal and void," wrote Third Judicial District Court Judge L.A. Dever in his ruling issued June 30.
The court further explained that the "unambiguous language" of Utah law made the "agreement" illegal and void from the moment it was created "as it directly offends the State's public policy that parents retain the fundamental right to exercise the primary control over the care and supervision of their children."
"A parent's fundamental right and responsibility to raise and care for her child cannot be bargained away or lost through contract," Mylar explained. "A parent has a constitutional right, supported by Utah public policy, to determine what is best for her child as time and circumstances dictate."
At the same time a Virginia woman in a similar situation is facing prison on August 25 for refusing to send her now seven-year-old daughter to visit her former lesbian partner alone - visits the girl's mother says has caused her daughter "emotional and spiritual trauma."
Lisa Miller was found in contempt of court last year after she refused a Vermont judge's order to send daughter Isabella to visit former lover Janet Jenkins, who is demanding parental rights over the girl. Miller says she will not obey the visitation order because of her daughter's troubling accounts of the visits: Isabella allegedly complains that Jenkins requires the girl to bathe naked with her, and the girl has spoken of killing herself after the visits.
To politely contact the judge in Lisa and Isabella's case:
Judge William D. Cohen
Rutland Superior Court
83 Center Street, Suite 3
Rutland, VT 05701
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