The state Court of Appeals has thrown out contempt findings that arose from a lesbian’s attempt to adopt a young girl.
Last year Wilkinson County Superior Court Judge John L. Parrott held both Elizabeth Hadaway and her lawyer, Dana P. Johnson, in contempt for disobeying his order that denied Hadaway’s adoption petition in part because Hadaway had been living with her same-sex partner.
Ten-day jail sentences for Hadaway and Johnson—not the fate of a girl named Emma—were at issue in the appeals. Emma, now 7, was reunited with Hadaway last May after further proceedings.
Parrott’s order had given custody to Emma’s natural mother, and Parrott held Hadaway and her lawyer in contempt for what the judge said was Hadaway’s failure to give up custody of the girl. But another judge later found that the natural mother, who had asked Hadaway to take Emma, refused to take the child back.
Appeals court Chief Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes, joined by Presiding Judge J.D. Smith and Judge M. Yvette Miller, wrote that Parrott’s order “did not address Hadaway’s or Johnson’s obligations,” so they could not have violated it.
Although American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Kenneth Y. Choe argued before the appeals court in September that Parrott also erred by “accomodat[ing]” societal prejudice against gays and lesbians, the appeals court didn’t reach that issue. But Choe said Monday he wasn’t upset about that, noting the state already had “good law” on gay parenting.
Charles M. Cork III represented Johnson, a fellow Macon lawyer, in her appeal. Johnson said Monday she is wrapping up her law practice as a result of the ordeal, noting it cost her $20,000 in legal fees, and hopes to go into teaching. But she called the ruling “good news,” noting also that the State Bar had said it could find no cause for Parrott’s bar complaint against her to go forward.
Johnson said Emma was doing well, saying, “That’s the biggest miracle in the entire mess.”
SOURCE: Fulton County Daily Report in an article by Alyson M. Palmer
Photo courtesy ABCNews.com
SOURCE FOR POST: Georgia Family Law Blog
Sara Wheeler’s life has become a contradiction.
Once a proud lesbian, she’s now a pariah in the gay community.
Once in a committed relationship with a female partner, she’s rethinking her sexuality.
And now she’s doing something she once would have considered unthinkable — arguing that gays don’t have the legal right to adopt children.
Wheeler is coming to grips with the fact that she’s become an outcast for taking this step in a custody fight for her child. But she says that isn’t what her fight is about: "It’s about motherly rights."
Wheeler, 36, and her partner, Missy, decided to start a family together and share the Wheeler last name. In 2000, Sara Wheeler gave birth to a son, Gavin, through artificial insemination. Two years later, they decided Missy Wheeler should adopt the child and legally become his second parent.
Georgia law doesn’t specifically say whether gay parents can adopt a child, so the decision was up to a judge in the Atlanta area’s DeKalb County. After an adoption investigator determined that both partners wanted it, the judge cleared the request.
By a 4 – 3 vote, the Supreme Court has denied certiorari in Wheeler v. Wheeler. All the Justices concurred, except Justices Carley, Thompson and Melton, who dissent. numerous states, with inconsistent results." As a result, he would grant certiorari in this case in order to review the trial court’s order.
In his dissent, Justice Carley argues that "there is not any appellate opinion addressing same-sex adoptions in Georgia, even though they have been permitted at the trial court level in certain counties, and the issue has been considered in
I have included the entire opinion by Justice Carley below.
SOURCE: Supreme Court of Georgia
As with other recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Georgia Court of Appeals on family law matters, I will post a summary of the opinion discussed below, but I wanted to share the information from today’s Fulton County Daily Report article on this case:
Law still murky in child custody battles between same-sex couples who have separated
A DIVIDED GEORGIA Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped a case that could have clarified how the law handles custody battles between homosexual couples in which one partner is the biological parent of a child and the other partner has adopted the child.
Without explanation, the court refused to take up a biological mother’s effort to invalidate her ex-partner’s adoption of the mother’s now-7-year-old child. High court rules require that discretionary cases be heard only if at least four of the seven justices agree to take them up.
Justices George H. Carley, Hugh P. Thompson and Harold D. Melton dissented from the decision not to hear the case.
The issue in the case is not whether gay people can adopt—according to the lawyers in the case, Georgia law does not forbid that.